DEStination: Gruyeres, SWitzerland
GORgeous Gruyeres! More than Great Cheese!
The Bag Carrier just loves his cheese, so when he spotted Gruyere on the Swiss Rail Map, plans were promptly made to include it in our itinerary!
When you’re next in Switzerland we highly recommend a trip to Gruyere. You can use your Swiss Rail Pass to get there, and we guarantee that whatever direction you’re coming from, you’ll experience yet another great Swiss scenic train ride and an abundance of interesting things to see and do around Gruyere.
At The Gruyere Station
The train stops right outside the Gruyere Cheese Factory. (La Maison du Gruyere} There’s not much else there. It’s a smallish station with a cafe attached and a couple of local buses parked outside that go up the hill to the medieval village of Gruyere, back down to the station, and then to Moleson-sur-Gruyere, a small resort area with access to the Moleson cable car for great views and sledding. There’s also a bus to Bulles.
Use your Swiss Rail Pass for free entry to the Cheese Factory and you’ll also be given a small free sample package of the famous Gruyere cheese with three pieces of cheese at different stages of aging. Collect your headset (13 languages available) and follow the tour at your own pace. Allow about an hour. We arrived early and managed a really good look around. Apparently, about 36 local farms deliver milk daily to the factory. You’ll learn about the history of cheese making in the area and see how and where it is made.
The Cheese Factory
The highlight of the day! Time for coffee
When the tour finished we wandered around the tourist cheese shop and then stopped at the cafe in the foyer. We thought we ‘d just have a quick coffee and a snack.
We’d read about the famous La Gruyeres Double Cream and thought we really should try it. We ordered the dessert which consisted of a small bowl of very fresh, tasty raspberries, a biscuit shaped oval of crunchy sweet meringue, and a dish of the famous double cream. It appeared to be nothing special but how wrong we were! It was so, so, so, delicious! Every mouthful! In fact, it was so good, that we actually had to make a second trip a week later to Gruyere, solely to have this dish again with its delicious La Gruyere double cream!
The Gruyeres Medieval Village
From the factory, we could see the Gruyere Castle on top of the hill and set off following a pathway past the chapel up the hill to the castle. We eventually huffed and puffed our way to the wall enclosed medieval old town that is Gruyeres Ville. Because we were early, and in the offseason, there were very few people, locals or tourists, around and most of the shops and cafes were just preparing to open. We wandered through the cobblestone streets admiring the medieval buildings and sense of history, and on to the end of the town where the castle was situated.
The Gruyeres Castle
The entrance area was very modern and once again we were able to use our Swiss Rail Pass for free entry to the castle. In the 13th century, the Count of Gruyere built his castle at the top of the hill. In 1938 the State Of Fribourg bought the castle and opened it as a museum.
We really loved wandering through the castle with its eight centuries worth of towers, history, spiral staircases, culture, and architecture. Every room was different with clear explanations of what we were looking at. The views from the top were stunning and the maze garden was fascinating. We were reluctant to leave.
There are two other museums in Gruyere Ville which we didn’t get time to see. We were most surprised to see that one is, in fact, a small Tibet Museum. The other is the HR Giger Museum showcasing science fiction art. HR Giger had won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects for the film “Aliens.”
Off to the Chocolate Factory Next
We needed to get the train from Gruyere to Bulle and change trains there to connect to the Broc Fabrique station for the chocolate factory. At Bulle, two trains arrived at the same time. One was hidden on the track behind the train right at the station. We just assumed the train right at the station was the one to Broc. Oops! We soon discovered that we were heading back in the wrong direction. We had plenty of time so we were eventually able to connect with the right train and made it to Broc La Fabrique
On the short walk to the Cailler Chocolate Factory, the oldest chocolate manufacturer in Switzerland, we passed the Nestle Outlet shop and had to stop there to check out what was on offer. Once again at the Cailler Factory we were able to use our Swiss Rail pass for free entry.
By this time it was late afternoon and there were quite a lot of tourists around. We followed the tour learning about the history of chocolate and how it is made and finished up in the tasting area, where we could help ourselves to small samples of all the different types of chocolate. Yum! And a real bonus as far as the chocolate addict bag carrier was concerned.
What a great day. And soon we were on another stunning rail trip back to Montreux where we were staying.
Tips for travelers:
From May to October there is a Golden Pass Chocolate Train trip which covers all of the above
i.e. trip to the Cheese Factory, the medieval town & castle, and the Chocolate Factory (approx 99 CHF). Bookings are essential. However, it is easy enough to do the trip on your own, especially if you have the Swiss Train Pass.