I have now reached the half-way mark into my exchange semester in Geneva and time is flying by. Being in the centre of Europe makes travelling easy and almost every weekend I have been lucky enough to explore another marvellous city.
This weekend I decided to explore a small medieval town in Switzerland called Gruyère (yes, just like the cheese), located in Switzerland’s canton of Fribourg. A friend of mine living in a near by town called Murten invited me to stay for the weekend and she took me to this spectacular little place for the day.
Just take a moment to picture the stereotypical image of Switzerland: snow-covered Alps situated above a lush, grassy field with cows grazing. This is exactly the scene I experienced this weekend and I adored every minute of it.
Gruyère is situated overlooking the valley Saane and Lake Gruyere, surrounded by beautiful green hills and enormous snow-capped mountains. Lined with cobble streets, dotted with cafés and sunny terraces, it’s hard not to fall in love with such a charming place.
One of the main attractions is the Gruyère castle, which was built in the 13th century for Gruyère counts and countesses. Visitors have the option of paying 8 CHF to go inside the castle and see the grounds, or just view the castle from the outside. Situated on top of the town, one has a spectacular picture of the surrounding landscapes and old architecture from the castle’s perimeter. It also contains both a regional museum and art museum for those interested in learning about the history of the castle.
Switzerland is also known very well-known for its production of chocolate and cheese. If you haven’t already guessed by now another main attraction (I’ll give you a hint…it’s all in the name), is the cheese aspect. Many of the little stores in Gruyère sell the cheese but for those true dairy lovers, one can visit the Gruyère AOP cheese factory! Although I did not opt for this factory tour, visitors get to learn about the cheese-making process and history of this delicious substance.
And now we have reached the highlight (of potentially my entire exchange thus far): the Cailler Chocolate Factory. This place is any chocolate lover’s haven. The first part of the tour began by explaining the origins of cocoa (which dates back to Aztec times) before taking you through a visual tour of chocolate history and how it is made today. The experience is multi-sensory, allowing you to smell the chocolate-y aromas, learn about and touch the ingredients in chocolate, watch the process of chocolate being manufactured, and, most importantly, sample the chocolate.
I cannot express how dangerous it is to have a counter full of different, freshly made chocolates to taste. I lost track of how many different types I tried and although I may have felt ever-so-slightly queasy afterwards, I walked away without a single regret.
Not only were the town and activities fantastic, but the drive to Gruyère was also exquisite. Driving through small, winding roads surrounded by endless greenery and mountains, I was lucky enough to meet some cows along the way!
Visiting Gruyère was an opportunity that allowed me to have the ultimate ‘Swiss’ experience, and it was an exciting way to learn more about Swiss culture, heritage, and foods.
I was pretty excited to be there if you can’t quite tell!
Information Obtained from:
Photographs are author’s own