Gruyères is a picturesque medieval town in western Switzerland, in the canton of Fribourg, and home to one of the most famous cheeses in the world – the Gruyère.
In 2014, it was elected the most beautiful village in French-speaking Switzerland. If you like cheese (and chocolate) as much as I do, it’s also the most delicious one.
Last weekend, I visited on a day trip with my boyfriend and a friend. We checked all the boxes when it comes to cheesy things to do in Gruyères, and had loads of fun. From cheese to aliens, and some more cheese, here’s what to do, see, and taste in Gruyères:
#1 Admire the doll’s city architecture
This tiny village is so perfect and pretty that it reminded me of a small doll’s city. Its colorful facades, wonderful little gardens, and surrounding postcard mountains distinguish it from other Swiss cities and towns.
#2 Visit St Theodul’s Church
On our way to Gruyères Castle we stopped to admire this simple and unpretentious catholic church, with a beautiful blue porch, and colorful stained-glass windows.
#3 Climb your way up to the Castle
The bucolic path up to the castle demanded a couple of stops, to catch our breath upon the picture perfect views, and soak up all the beauty around us.
Dating back to the 13th century, the Gruyères Castle was once the residence of the counts of Gruyères. Today it’s a museum, with a permanent exhibition about its own history, and various temporary exhibitions. It features also “Gruyères”, a thrilling multimedia show about the story of the castle.
The entry fee is 12 francs for adults.
#4 Enjoy the view of the Moléson
Up in the castle, the view over the mountains was even more impressive. The Moléson, at 2,002 meters, is the best known and most impressive one.
Unfortunately, we had to give up on the idea of admiring the superb panorama from the summit of the Moléson, since the funicular and cable car that would take us there are currently closed to maintenance, reopening only by the end of May.
The Moléson is famous for its ski resort in the winter, and its hiking and themed nature trails in the summer, among many other activities.
#5 Taste the cheese fondue
All the walking around open our appetites, so we chose one of the many restaurants in Gruyères, the Gruyère Traditions, and indulged ourselves on a delicious cheesy meal.
I went for the popular Fondue “moitié-moitié” or “half and half” (half gruyere cheese, half vacherin). My boyfriend chose the Fondue des Seigneurs, and our friend had the Macaronis de chalet.
We sat outside on the terrace, enjoying a beautiful view of the pre-Alps and the sunny day. We had a great time and meal, and I highly recommend this place.
Gruyère Traditions is also a hotel, and a cheese factory – the production of the home-made cheese Le Tradition takes place from Wednesday to Saturday, and is open to visitors.
#6 … and the chocolate fondue
For dessert, we ordered the chocolate fondue with fruits of the season. Healthy (at least that’s what I’m telling myself!) and delicious at the same time.
#7 Visit the HR Giger Museum
After lunch we stopped by the HR Giger Museum, in the small St Germain Castle, bought by Giger in 1998.
The museum shows the work of the Swiss surrealist artist HR Giger, the creator of the Alien in Ridley Scott’s movie with the same name. In 1980, Giger won the Oscar for best visual effects for his participation in the film.
But his career goes way beyond that, as shown by this museum, which contains the biggest existing collection of Giger’s work, from paintings and sculptures, to furnishings and film sets.
The admission to the museum costs 12.50 francs. Or you can buy a combined ticket for the HR Giger Museum and the Gruyères Castle for 19 francs.
#8 Take lots of photos at the Giger Bar
Opposite to the HR Giger Museum, there’s the most impressive bar you’ll ever visit – the Giger Bar.
Designed and created under the supervision of Giger himself, this place recreates the atmosphere of Giger’s art world, and it’s nothing less than amazing.
When you enter the Giger Bar, with its spectacular interior design and gothic waitresses, you feel like part of the cast of a Sci-Fi movie.
We couldn’t help but take lots of photos here – and I mean a lot!
#9 Learn how to make cheese
The last stop of the cheesiest day ever was La Maison du Gruyère, a cheese-dairy and museum, located next to Gruyères train station, where we learnt all about the Gruyère AOP cheese production.
Did you know a cow can drink up to 150 liters of water and produce up to 25 liters of milk a day? Or that the Gruyère cheese is placed in a salt water bath for 24 hours, before storage? Well, that’s the sort of interesting facts you’ll learn here.
Although a bit smaller than what we were expecting, the interactive exhibition “Gruyère AOP, a journey to the heart of the senses” tells the story of the Gruyère cheese and reveals the secrets of its production.
The entry costs 7 francs (or 16 francs for the combined ticket with the castle of Gruyères), and we got a headset with audio information in Portuguese (available in 13 languages).
If you go in the morning, you can see the cheese-makers working. If you visit in the afternoon, like we did, you’ll watch the whole process through video.
#10 Have even more cheese!
After the visit to the cheese factory it was time for… more cheese! Included in the admission ticket were three samples of Guyères cheese with six, eight, and ten months of maturation, respectively.
So after all the learning, we headed to the bar for the best part – the tasting.
We had a great cheesy day in Gruyères. From a lovely town center to stunning nature, from delicious cheese to terrifying aliens, Gruyères has everything you can wish for in a truly Swiss village. And even more.
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Have you been to Gruyères? What would you add to this list of cheesy things to do? Share in the comments section below.
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