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Gruyeres

Adorable Chick

SWITZERLAND Diary : Day 6 - 10 April 2014

Gruyeres is a small hill- town in Switzerland. The famous Gruyeres Cheese gets its name from this place. The town is nearly 800 years old, retaining its medieval and rustic look, be it the houses, chalets, buildings, shops or restaurants. The surrounding snow capped mountain range, green meadows, tall trees, typical 'chalet' type houses, a small railway station - The "real" Switzerland that often crops up in the picture of your dreams can be found here. The Cailler Chocolate factory in Broc Fabrique and the La Maison De Gruyere cheese factory in Gruyeres are housed here, apart from the ancient Gruyere's Castle.

Our day 6 in the country was another happy one - the "off track" destination day. All dressed in Red and white, we were set to follow our itinerary that included GRUYERES in first half of the day and MONTREUX in the second half. We boarded a train from the Interlaken West Station to reach Bern; another one to get to Fribourg. The journey took around an hour and half. From Fribourg, the LA'GRUYERE train got us to the Broc Fabrique village. This leg, was an hour of journey. The chocolate factory is at less than a 5 minute walking distance from the village railway station.   An insanely chocolaty aroma caught our senses, right at the end of a road, leading to the factory, as we turned into it. We saw people queuing up, along the walls of a huge building and instantly knew that it was the place.

The Main building of the "CAILLER's" is a palatial, European style structure, coloured in white.   The open land in front of this building, flaunted a central fountain, a garden and a little office, that was shaped like a cut piece of chocolate. Giant chocolate bars were planted in the garden area, along with a  giant tea cup & saucer. The tour of the factory came free with our SWISS PASS. A large hall invited us from the entrance point. An array of chocolates, varying in shapes, sizes and wraps, were arranged aesthetically on one side of the hall, with souvenirs on the other. We had already decided to make a huge purchase at the end of our tour. We lined up for a dramatic presentation of the origin of Chocolate.

Tidy Desk

A series of chambers and rooms welcomed us one after another, with a "voice over" explaining the entire history behind this much loved eat. The story telling included props, secret doors, dramatics, lighting, music and other theatrics. The entire experience was more like treasure hunt / escape room.  It was a different experience. The facts grabbed our attention.  At the end of the story telling, was a room displaying varied types of fine quality, aromatic cocoa beans, collected from all over the world.  Next was a short tour on chocolate processing. We watched the rhythmic movement of various machines, while mixing, powdering, adding, cutting, shaping and wrapping the chocolates as required. In a short time the cocoa beans had turned into moulded, sensuous bits of sheer luxury, prepared to melt in our mouth.  The packaging of the final product was the fun part. The highlight of the tour was the "free tasting" of chocolates in a large, closed area. Trays full of assorted chocolates, in various shapes & flavours were laid out in an orderly fashion, on tables that ran almost the inner length of the walls on 3 sides, with space enough to let people move around.  

Each tray was being promptly replenished. Hundreds of visitors walked maintaining a queue around the table area, gulping down as much as they could. 
Initially, we tried nearly one piece from each tray. The variety names and flavours attracted us. After tasting 15 odd rich chocolates, we were saturated and couldn't tolerate the sweetness anymore. However, this wouldn't stop us from buying chocolates at the show room. A big life sized cow, made of pure brown chocolate, was on display in one of the corridors. We returned to the main hall, deciding on the choice of flavours to take home. The chocolate store drove us crazy. Each time, the bars in the next shelf seemed more attractive. We had to forcibly put a stop to this "Chocolate purchase mania".   After filling our bags with loads and loads of various differently flavoured chocolates, we left to get to the railway station.

We reached GRUYERES by train, through Bulle, from Broc village. The journey lasted around 40 minutes. The village tempted us with its pristine ambience, but we chose to visit the LA MAISON DE GRUYERE' cheese factory, before exploring this 'beauty of a village' by foot.  The tour of the factory was free with our SWISS PASS. The building was relatively small in comparison to the Chocolate factory. We moved from chamber to chamber while the recorded voice provided relevant information on the corresponding function carried out in the room. It was delightful to understand the level of precision and cleanliness maintained in each and every section of the factory, for every separate process. We could smell cheese everywhere.  

Barrels and barrels of milk are processed here each day. We were guided to the "store room" which stocked tons of variety cheese, neatly labelled and laid out in the shelf racks provided. These racks nearly reached the roof. The tour was good exposure for the kids. This tour had a yummy ending too. We visited the factory restaurant. Some vegetarian eats with cheese & a bag of small potatoes was the order we placed.  We were really surprised at the quantity of cheese provided. On our table, was a little fire kindled, on which was placed a whole pot of melting cheese. The bag of herb infused baby potatoes were heavenly. The other eats were very yummy too.  Some members of the group couldn't stand the strong smell of cheese . Outside the restaurant was a cut out of a traditionally dressed Swiss couple, where we could place our heads to fit into their bodies, for a picture. I am unable to trace many pictures of our experiences at both the factories, at this point in time.  I will surely update the gallery, if and when I find them.