Video: A journey through time
A region with many stories to tell
La Gruyère is famed for its rich culture and magnificent terroir. Its songs echo far beyond its hills and its traditional delicacies delight food lovers the world over.
Perhaps less well-known is how these traditions came to be; how these turning points in the region’s history helped forge the unmistakeable identity of present-day La Gruyère. The Association des Musées en Gruyère, Glâne et Pays-d’Enhaut rises above the clichés and timeworn tales to offer visitors a fresh and engaging look at the region’s eventful past. Each collection tells its own riveting story that leads up mountain paths and down country lanes that once were trodden by the ordinary folk of La Gruyère. Together, these collections offer a fascinating tour of the extraordinary heritage that generations of local people have bequeathed to the region, in their typical unassuming and discreet way.
Video: Stories to share
Musée gruérien – Explore the history of La Gruyère
The starting point of this epic journey is Bulle, the region’s capital. With its renowned collection of local artefacts and images, the Musée gruérien paints an intimate and vivid picture of life in La Gruyère through the ages.
The permanent exhibition Gruyère: Footprints and Detours captures the diversity of the region’s heritage. Divided into seven themes, it offers an absorbing account of centuries of local history and the people who lived it. The exhibition documents pivotal moments for the region’s development, such as advent of the cheese trade, the early days of industrialisation and the remarkable rise of the town of Bulle, and is beautifully illustrated with iconic images which distil the essence of the region.
Don’t miss the great audiovisual show featuring scale models of Bulle. Gifted storytellers recount three years – 1722, 1912 and 2002 – which heavily shaped the history of the market town. The authentically recreated interior of a farmhouse provides a glimpse from a bygone era into everyday family life.
By the time you leave the museum, you will know how cattle herders made cheese on their mountain farms, when the oldest surviving poyas (pictures depicting the annual procession of cows as they make their way to their high summer pastures) were made, and why cows wear bells, and much more besides!
A visit to the Musée gruérien is a great day out for groups and families. It is an immersive journey into the heart of La Gruyère and offers a refreshing take on this unique and vibrant region with its charming blend of bustling towns and rolling countryside.
The Musée gruérien, which is the starting point of a historic trail through the heart of the region’s capital, is a stone’s throw away from the Jardins de la Cité, whose plants and flowers envelope the Château in colour. On a fine day, climb to the castle’s keep and enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views. Digest all of these experiences with a time-travelling trip to the Belle Époque: enjoy a bite to eat or a coffee in the gentile art nouveau surroundings of the Brasserie du Moderne, just around the corner from the Château.
Château de Gruyères and the noble spirit of adventure
A few kilometres away from the region’s capital stands the Château de Gruyère. Built in the 13th century on the hill overlooking the charming medieval town of the same name, the castle was the seat of one of the region’s most powerful noble families, the Counts of Gruyère, for nearly 500 years. The last member of the family to reside there, Count Michel was forced to surrender his ancestral home in 1554 to settle the substantial debts he owed the cities of Bern and Fribourg.
Subsequently, the Château became the home of a succession of bailiffs and prefects appointed by the Fribourg administration to govern the region. In 1848, a wealthy family from Ge
neva purchased the medieval fortress and transformed it into a sanctuary for artists. Painters, sculptors, musicians and writers flocked to the Château de Gruyères in search of inspiration in these exhilarating and august surroundings. The beauty and timeless quality of the setting did indeed spark their creative imagination and many of these art works still adorn the castle’s walls and rooms today.
Memories of its colourful history are etched into the stone of the Château de Gruyères. From medieval treasures to paintings by Camille Corot not to mention the sumptuous Ancien Régime decor, the castle provides a visual account of the events which have shaped the landscape of La Gruyère over time. The castle’s collections, tucked safely behind its centuries-old walls, document an enthralling and multifaceted history which has more to tell than classic tales of knights in shining armour.
Musée du Pays-d’Enhaut: the guardian of treasures from everyday life
The next stop on this time-travelling trip is the Musée du Pays-d’Enhaut, in the heart of the Alpes Vaudoises. Founded in 1922, the museum offers an intimate glimpse into a bygone era. Its extensive collection of furniture and other local artefacts vividly depict everyday life of the people who called this once remote part of La Gruyère home.
The museum in Château-d’Oex, a village in the foothills of the Alps, is a treasure trove of objects from everyday life. Some were transformed into works of art thanks to the skill and inventiveness of the people who used them. Its collection, which includes crockery, furniture, as well as etchings, engravings and water colours depicting local scenes brings this forgotten past to life. Some of these objects decorate 15 carefully recreated rooms that vividly capture a bygone atmosphere.
The Musée du Pays-d’Enhaut, one of the most important folk art museums in Switzerland, also showcases the traditional practice of paper cutting. The exhibition features work by local artists Hans Jakob Hauswirth (1809-1871) and Louis Saugy (1871-1953). With symbolism and sensitivity, they conveyed their deep love for this unique landscape through the delicate art of découpage. Through its celebration of the life and work of past generations, the Musée du Pays-d’Enhaut, plays a vital role in safeguarding the valley’s cultural heritage, including its many traditional crafts.
You can continue your journey through time thanks to several interpretive trails through the villages of Rougemont and Rossinière. Walk in the footsteps of Louis Saugy or admire the finely wrought house fronts that are so typical of the region’s traditional architecture.