After exploring Château de Chillon and finally getting our fondue fix, we hopped back on the train on Wednesday to see the Callier Chocolate Factory and spend the day in Gruyères.
We took the famous Golden Pass train line to the town of Broc Fabrique. The Golden Pass trains were a bit nicer than the standard trains, but the views along the ride were really spectacular.
And yes, the grass was really that green.
Swiss dairy cows! They eat a very specialized diet of different types of grass to produce just the right flavor of milk for cheese and chocolate.
When you get off the train in Broc Fabrique you immediately know you’ve arrived in the land of chocolate. The air even smells delicious.
Callier is now owned by Nestle, but the base operations are still run out of a beautiful old fashioned mansion with a large circular fountain- one of the oldest, most authentic places for Swiss chocolate.
Once inside, we bought a tour ticket for 10 Swiss Francs and shopped a little before we stood in line for our tour.
The tour is one part cheesy, two parts awesome. It’s a full audio tour with animatronics and special effects in each section of the tour. A deep voice (think Olmec from Legends of the Hidden Temple) starts the tour with: ” Once upon a time when the Aztecs brought the cacao beans…” and just gets crazier from there.
AND we did learn some pretty interesting facts about chocolate along the way.
After the audio tour you enter a room full of all types of cacao beans.
Then you get to see an assembly line of how the chocolate is packaged.
It was fascinating to watch how the robot hand was picking up each of the individual little chocolate pieces.
After all of that, you are rewarded with the highlight of the entire tour.
Two words: Tasting Room.
We gorged on chocolate until we had sufficient stomachaches and made our way back to the station just in time to catch our train to Gruyères (just a few stops over).
Once off the train, we walked across the street to La Maison du Gruyère -the Gruyère Cheese Factory.
When you take a tour of the factory, you are given a sample box of different types of aged Gruyère and an audio receiver to listen to the guided tour. Here’s Tam listening to how the specifc type of dandelions that the cows eat affect the taste of the cheese.
After learning about the history and the cows, we got to see the room where you can watch the cheese makers in action. The process is really neat – one that has been a tradition in the town for hundreds of years.
The factory produces up to 48 wheels of Gruyère cheese per day. Each wheel is aged for months before being packaged and shipped.
After the tour we did a little souveneir shopping. I really wanted to bring home a box of their famous meringues, but they were way too fragile for my crammed suitcase.
After the cheese factory tour, we walked down the street and up a hill to the medieval village of Gruyères.
We were starving for real food after all the cheese and chocolate, so our first stop was to this little cafe for lunch.
And delirious, apparently.
We barely missed the last tour of the castle for the day, so we walked around the outside of the grounds. The Gruyères castle was constructed between 1270 and 1282.
We also made friends with some Swiss sheep.
On the opposite side of the hill, you can see several villages and the surrounding mountains.
Once we had
stormed circled the castle, we walked back through the village and came across a rather odd museum and bar in the middle of the medieval village. Any fans of the “Alien” movies reading this blog? Youwill be pleased to know that the Museum H R Giger is in Gruyères. This Giger Museum is home to the permanent collection of the works of H.R. Giger, the award winning Swiss designer of Ridley Scott’s blockbuster “Alien” movies.
H R Giger Museum in Gruyères
Next to the Museum is the amazing Giger Bar whose interior is like the insides of an alien spaceship and the furniture and decor adopt alien themes as well. Obviously we had to go in.
Jacob was so frightened by the alien babies in our booth
After a drink and dessert, we walked back down to the train station to head back to Randy and Tam’s for the night.
And just like the ride there, the train ride back did not disappoint. Check out that sunset.
Next up in our Swiss adventures: Exploring Lausanne
AND In case you missed the first four days of our trip: