Today my Around The World post takes you to Switzerland, my homeland. You have probably heard of or have tasted Gruyère cheese. But do you know the region it comes from?
La Gruyère is the quintessential image people usually have of Switzerland: Mountains, a lake, green pastures, chalets and cows. This very picturesque region has a lot to offer and is full of legends such as Catillon the Witch or the Lessoc Fountain. Let’s start with the town of… Gruyères – yes, the cheese, the town, the lake and the region all have the same name!
Gruyères is a medieval burg built at the top of a hill that has retained its authentic character. You will be able to enjoy its charms in a quiet way as no cars are allowed. You can leave your vehicle in one of the big parking lots either at the bottom or at the top of the hill. Then enjoy your stroll along the main street, perhaps popping into one of the numerous shops to look at the work of local artisans or stopping in a restaurant to taste fresh berries served with the famous Gruyère double cream…
Your steps will take you up to the small castle, worth a visit. Make sure you also turn yourself into a sentinel and do the rampart walk: The view is lovely. Another interesting but totally unexpected feature of Gruyères is the HR Giger museum. Yes, the artist who brought us the Alien monsters has his own museum and a bar in his honour just across the street. The bar is very cool and offers the weird experience of sitting on revolving chairs made of Alien bones!!
Once you are done with your visit of Gruyères town you may want to pop into La Maison du Gruyère, a demonstration cheese dairy. The visit is interactive and built around the five senses. There is also a shop selling local delicacies and a restaurant.
Is it chocolate you love? Then head for the Maison Cailler factory in Broc, a ten minutes drive from Gruyères. You rather fancy a wellness day? Les Bains de la Gruyère in Charmey are at your disposal for relaxing moments.
I also suggest a bit of hiking on the slopes of the Moléson. If you have a good level of fitness you can go up and down by foot. Alternatively you can catch a funicular that will take you halfway up the mountain. Should you want to start from the very top then you will need a cable car trip too. The views over the surrounding countryside and villages, as well as over the Gruyère lake, are breathtaking. In the winter a vast array of snow-related activities are on offer. You can also elect to try what we did: Catch the funicular up at night and enjoy a tasty fondue in the traditional restaurant.
The snow shining in the moonlight makes for a magical experience…