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Day Trip from Zurich: Gruyères & Cailler Chocolate Factory

Updated: Oct 7, 2018

A great day trip from Zurich, and also a popular destination among tourists, is the medieval town of Gruyères, located in Canton Fribourg, in the French speaking region of Switzerland. Random comment here: Switzerland has 4 official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. When driving from one region to another is amazing to see how the street signs change from one language to the other. To me is incredible how such a small country is so diverse linguistically and culturally.

Château de Gruyères

Vieux Pont at Broc Gruyères, Switzerland

OK, now back to our day trip. After wandering through the cheese stalls, we wanted to have lunch at Le Chalet, since it had been recommended to us. But when we got there it was full and they did not have a spot until 2 hours later. So we put our names on the list and patiently waited. In the mean time, we bought (more) cheese, bread and hot chocolate and improvised a picnic in front of the HR Giger Museum. HR Giger won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects for the film “Alien” and he is Swiss. This museum contains the biggest collection of the existing works of him, including paintings, sculptures, film sets, etc. After our picnic, we went up to the Château de Gruyères and walked around the premises. By the time we finished walking around it, two hours had flew by and we did not have time to enter the castle. On our way back, we had a drink at the HR Giger museum’s bar. This place is decorated as the insides of an alien, inspired in the movie Alien. It it a pretty cool site to see.

Inside the HR Giger bar, notice the bones making up all the decoration in the roof, chairs and tables.

Finally at Le Chalet, we ordered a Raclette, a Swiss dish based on heating the cheese and scraping off (racler) the melted part. Like the fondue, this dish is meant to be shared. It is served with vegetables and potatoes, and bread –of course. The experience was great and we left satisfied.

Raclette and other cheese dish

During the festival we enjoyed yodeling singing and my favorite, the alphorn players and flag twirling. It was an opportunity to experience unique Swiss traditions.

Flag twirling is one of the oldest national sports of Switzerland

The alphorn has long been a tool used by shepherds. It was used to call the cows from the pastures and into the barn at milking time.

Cailler Chocolate Factory

Since we had time to hit one more place before heading back to Zurich, we visited Cailler chocolate factory for our own scrumdiddlyumptious Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory experience. The factory is open until 6pm 7-7, the last tour is one hour before closing time. We made it by 4:52, so we were in the last group. The entrance costs 10 CHF per person. You get a tour which tells you about the history of chocolate and then at the end you see the assembling lines making the chocolate. The best is saved for last, when you are able to sample countless varieties of chocolate. I literally had nearly an overdose of chocolate, and do not expect to eat any more until further notice. — Who am I kidding?

About to enter Wille Wonka's Chocolate Factory

About to go into a sugar coma

Check out this video from the chocolate-making process at Cailler’s:

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