Destinations for food lovers

Video: Destinations for food lovers

La Gruyère – a gastronomic paradise

La Gruyère, with its shady valleys, enchanting forests and verdant hills once tilled by farmers centuries ago, is a region of great natural beauty. Its rich heritage is lived and is there to be explored, whether through a hike in the mountains or a visit to the heart of its medieval towns. But above all, the heritage and history of La Gruyère is documented in its centuries-old culinary traditions. Its local specialities are the product of craftsmanship passed down over hundreds of years from one generation to the next and has earned its specialities international renown.

La Maison du Gruyère: on the trail of the celebrated cheese

Gruyère AOP is more than a mere food product. Exported to more than 60 countries around the world, it has become a global ambassador for the region.

As far back as the 15th century rumours had begun to circulate about mountain herders turning the milk from their cows into a fine-tasting cheese. It was not until the 17th century that this cheese became officially known as ‘Gruyère’, and its meteoric rise began.

At any one time, as many as 7,000 rounds are stored in the cheese dairy’s cellars to mature

The recipe is the same today as it was four centuries ago. From curdling the milk in vats to ripening in cellars, each phase of the production process is overseen by local master cheese-makers according to the time-honoured ways handed down from generation to generation. Four hundred litres of milk, six centuries of tradition, six months of maturing and a huge helping of passion go into one round of Gruyère AOP. The region’s lush alpine meadows where the cows graze lend the milk its special and unique taste.

At La Maison du Gruyère, you can enjoy an interactive, multisensory and immersive tour of the cheesemaking process, which begins with the first drop of milk. Today, some 30 local farmers ensure a steady supply of the precious white gold to this Gruyère AOP cheese dairy.

What better way to finish your tour than sampling some traditional fare? The cheese dairy has its own restaurant offering a great choice of mouthwatering dishes in which Gruyère AOP is the star ingredient: fondue, croûte au fromage, quiche and other local traditional dishes. Here, cheese is not merely consumed; it is worshipped.

Your meal would not be complete without a dish of meringues served with Gruyère double cream. To help you digest these hearty local dishes, take a walk along the interpretive Sentier des fromageries (cheese dairy trail) that begins at La Maison du Gruyère and ends in the village of Moléson. There are two routes to choose from.


La Maison Cailler: end your trip on a sweet note

If you have sweet tooth, simply follow the scent of cocoa. It will lead you to the Maison Cailler, some five kilometres from Gruyères village.

For over a century, the Cailler chocolate factory has been filling the air of the little village of Broc with the delicious smell of roasted hazelnuts. The company was founded by François-Louis Cailler. Born in 1796 in Vevey, Cailler, together with Abram L. C. Cusin from Aubonne, began selling chocolate from his modest grocery store on the shores of Lake Geneva. The two men later dissolved their partnership and Cailler took over the business. In 1898, his grandson Alexandre-Louis Cailler opened a chocolate factory in Broc and progressively expanded the company’s product range. Today, Cailler can proudly claim to be the oldest surviving brand of Swiss chocolate.

Located in the vivid green countryside of La Gruyère, the chocolate factory documents the history of a product that has been enjoyed for more than 4,000 years. An interactive exhibition will take you back to the pre-Colombian origins of chocolate. Sailing off with explorers, you will travel through the ages, mapping the evolution of this much-loved and legendary product as you go.

The Cailler chocolate factory has been filling the air in the tiny village of Broc with the delicious smell of roasted hazelnuts since 1898

The exhibition shares some sweet secrets about this delicacy which once earned the ire of the church due to its indecent effect on the ladies of the royal court. The tour ends at the production line, where you can observe Cailler’s famous chocolate being made and find out more about its essential ingredients. This multisensory feast fittingly ends in the tasting room where you can sample a bountiful selection of Cailler products that will leave your curiosity and hunger well and truly sated.

You can also purchase the brand’s iconic products and personalised gifts at the Maison Cailler shop. If you have a little more time, you could sign up for a workshop and create your very own chocolate bar from a smorgasbord of ingredients and with a generous sprinkling of your own creativity.

Hopefully, we have convinced you of La Gruyère’s sterling gastronomic credentials!

Angélique Eggenschwiler