Some Swiss Gruyère cheese? Don't mind if I do!

Some Swiss Gruyère cheese? Don't mind if I do!

We got up early today for our day trip to Gruyères village, which is a rural medieval town famous for its production of Gruyère cheese. We bought croissants for breakfast at a boulangerie (bakery), which were super delicious, crisp and buttery. We discovered that pastries from actual bakeries were much more delicious than the pastries from supermarkets such as Coop because Carly got an apple tart that she said was not very good.

We took the train to Gruyères village, which is located in the Swiss canton (aka federal state) of Fribourg and near where the Saan river leaves the Fribourg Alps. The train ride to Gruyères was very scenic because looking out the window, weleft behind rows of Swiss French vineyards and transitioned into a more rural area with fields with cows and magnificent views of the Fribourg Alps.

The rural setting ofGruyères village in the midst of theFribourg green pre-Alpine foothills. Look closely near the bottom of the photo and you can see a neat line of cows being herded!

We met a local lady on the train, who works at a creperie in Gruyères. She was very friendly and recommended that we walk around the castle and go to the Giger museum. She told us that she is a graphic designer working from home, but during tourist season she worked in Gruyèresin order to have human interactions. All the visitors to Gruyere are tourists, which she likes because they are always cheerful and happy.

Carly and I are very happy to be in the beautiful Gruyères village with cobblestone streets and breathtaking views of the Fribourg Alps.

I was initially surprised to hear that Gruyère was super touristy, like Disneyland but without rides or admission fees. However, it makes sense since the town is very small and tourist industry must be very big because of its internationally famous cheese. I learned that for cheese to be called SwissGruyère cheese, it must actually be made according to production and regulation rules defined by the Swiss law because of the enforcedappellation d’origine contrôlée(AOC), which states that certain wines, cheeses and butters must be produced in consistent and traditional manners with ingredients from specifically classified producers in designated geographical areas. The products must further be aged at least partially in the respective designated area. Thus, the AOC such as on SwissGruyère cheese upholds and maintains the authenticity of the product attributed to the famous name.

We visited the H.R. Giger Museum, which houses a permanent collection of the Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor and movie set designer’s art collection. Giger had won an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects for his work on the set design of the film Alien.The predominant theme throughout the museum was *Alien *with some wort of weird (sexual) twist, which on many occasionswas pretty disturbing. It was pretty strange to say the least and seemed out of place from the rest of the village atmosphere.

The medieval castle inGruyères village is a dominate feature of the village.We had ham and cheese crepes for lunch from the creperie of the local woman we had met on the train. We ate near the castle and admired the incredible view. There were sheep and cows and we could hear the soft tinkling cowbells. There was also a Tibetan Museum which we didn’t go to but I didn’t expect to see that in a tourist village in Switzerland.

We hiked up to the Gruyère Castle to take a look at the architecture and were rewarded with simply magnificent views of the rural landscape and Fribourg Alps.

Admiring the breathtaking views from the fortified walls of medievalGruyère Castle.

Then, we visited the town’s Roman Catholic church. The original church had been destroyed twice before and the one that stands today is a renovated version.

Before we left, we gave in to our sweet tooth’s and tourist tendencies by buying a an overpriced meringue ice cream dessert because it came with this special super thick fresh Gruyère cream.The ice cream was delicious and refreshing but the meringue was a little too sweet for my taste. We loved the cream because it tasted really, really fresh despite how thick it was.

Next, we went to the Chocolat Factory. However, we accidentally took the train in the wrong direction, so we got off at the first small town we reached to try to turn around. It was small and not touristy at all. There were a lot of gardens. One even had pumpkins on the vine and a lot of sunflowers. The houses looked much more like ski chalets than the pastel houses back on the shores of Lake Geneva.The church (every town, no matter how small has a church) was more ostentatious and Catholic-like than the ones in Lausanne, similar to the one in Gruyère. When we finally made it to the chocolate factory, we saw it was owned by Nestle! We thought Nestle was American, but I guess not. The line for the tour was long, full of tourists, and it wasn’t covered by the Swiss pass, so we decided to leave.

The chocolate factory!


…Owned by Nestle? We recognize that name!

We went to Geneva for dinner and the evening. I got pizza with an egg on top, which was pretty non-American. Another cultural difference was that instead of having a pizza that was pre-cut, we had to cut/saw the pizza with a fork and knife. It was surprisingly difficult to cut through the thin crust. My fingers were even sore by the time I finished eating. However, it was very delicious since the pizza was nicely oven baked and much less greasy than American pizza.

When walking around Geneva, I spotted an French-Asian fusion restaurant sign that I thought was pretty funny:

Chinese-French restaurant in Geneva.

We went to a couple bars in Geneva afterward on a street our waiter had recommended as having good nightlife. We got to the street of pubs by intra-city tram. The interior decorating and furniture contributed to a pretty funky atmosphere which I liked.