Vivid headgears worn by Minorities @ Sapa Market

Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Mango dessert sold in Hoi Lau San @ Yau Ma Tei


Rare glimpse of Proboscis Monkey @ Bako National Park


A Blue & White (青花) Vase displayed @ Forbidden City


Decided to visit Gruyères (格吕耶尔) with my colleagues on 08 Aug (Sun), which was the next day after our trip to Jungfrau. The name Gruyères is in fact French, while it is known as Greyerz in German. Gruyères is located in the Canton of Fribourg. The purpose of this trip was to visit the medieval town of Gruyères and its castle, as well as Cailler Chocolate Museum.

Bought our train tickets only days before our departure. Cost of the ticket was CHF 41.80 after discount from SBB ½ fare card. This fare would include the trains and buses, as well as admission fee to the Cailler Museum.

Transport to Gruyères

Traveling to Gruyères was not easy on the first time. From Neuchâtel, we took a regional train departing at 0836 hours to Kerzers. Interestingly, train seat design was unique where group of friends could crowd around just like at home (left photo below). At Kerzers station, we changed to another train to Fribourg. This time the interior color of the train was much brighter (right photo below).

After reaching Fribourg, we had to walk to a bus terminal nearby to board a regional bus to Bulle (photos below). Once reached Bulle bus terminal, we had to walk towards its train station to board another train to Gruyères. Finally we reached Gruyères at 1059 hours.

Simply amazed by this short single trip that required travelers to change 3 trains and a regional bus within traveling time of 2-hours and 23-mins.

Medieval Town of Gruyères

The historical medieval town is built on top of an isolated hill north of the Alps (left photo below), but in the foothills of mount Moléson (right photo below).

The castle was constructed between 1270 and 1282 in the typical square plan of the fortifications. Beneath the castle, the town began to develop which the Count of Gruyere had built on top of the hill, to control the upper Saanen valley. By 1195 to 1196, it became a market town with a central street and city walls. It is notable that the town was developed separately from the castle.

It takes only about 10-mins walk from the Gruyères train station to this medieval town. The first sight we encountered was the stone gate (left photo below) that led us into the town. On one of the gates, there is a representation of two warriors. Those were the heroes Claremboz and Bras de Fer, who distinguished themselves in the reign of Peter IV of Gruyères during the 4th century. They resisted the first assault of the Bernese with nearly no external help until reinforcements finally arrived (right photo below).

Besides the buildings, even the gates had the medieval feel (photos below).

At the end of the town plaza stood the Le Calvaire (left photo below). Its name derives from the sculptured group that was conveniently put up over the door to protect it from the bad weather. In fact the building is not an oratory. It was originally used for storing goods such as grain and salt on its ground floor, but later used as fire premises. Now this is where local artisans come to exhibit their work.

Houses on both sides of the plaza remained almost unchanged although most of them are now converted to restaurants and shops (right photo below).

Gruyères Castle

The Gruyères Castle, or Château de Gruyères in French, is one of the most prestigious sites of Switzerland. Visiting this site is a fascinating voyage across time and cultures over eight centuries from the 13th to the 19th century. Nineteen Counts of Gruyères succeeded one another from 1080 to 1554 occupying the castle. Michel, the last Count, lost his ancestral domain in 1554 and died in exile.

From 1555 until 1848, administrators of Fribourg endowed the castle with new embellishment in the Baroque style. From 1849 the castle was the property of two Geneva families and it became an important cultural crossroads. In 1938 the Canton of Fribourg purchased the castle and founded the present museum (photos below).

Within the castle compound stood a small chapel (left photo below). Built in the 13th century, fragments of the painting of Christ in Glory and the Twelve Apostles on the vault and sidewalls were still visible (right photo below).

Nearby town of Gruyères could be seen clearly from the castle compound (photos below).

Soon after bought our tickets, we then watched the multimedia show «Gruyères» in the projection room. Lasted only 18-mins in duration and available in 8 different languages, the show narrates with high definition images, music, light and sound on the history and legends of Gruyères region.

Next we visited the kitchen where there were display of the original fireplace with pot-hangers, mechanical skewer, cooking pots, sandstone and bread oven (photos below).

Ancient battle armors worn by soldiers and guards were on displayed (photos below).

Painted Glasses on the castle windows are not to be missed (photos below), where legends and histories of Gruyères.

The coat of arms for Gruyères, Gules, could be spotted on one of the windows in the castle (left photo below).

The Corot's Room (right photo below) constitutes an important moment of artistic exchange and creativity. The room is named after the famous French artist, Camille Corot, who painted the four medallion landscapes.

The Bailiff's Room got its name due to the past 50 bailiffs marked their presence between 1555 and 1798 in this room as a big study. The foliage that decorates the walls was painted in 1685 till 1686 (photos below).

Central window embrasure: the arms of the city of Fribourg flanked by the arms of the treasurer Kanisius Saler and the secretary Nicolas von der Weid (photos below).

Beautiful works of tapestry could be seen hanging in the room (photos below)

The Music Room seems to have more of the modern element (photos below).

Real deer antlers on display in the Hunting Room (photos below).

The Knights' Room was named for its wall decoration (photos below). Painted between 1852 and 1862, the drawings represented Gruyères' legends and mixing with Counts' history. On the contrary, the wood furniture which adapted from antique models, were made at the end of 19th century.

Exquisite dinning wares were also on display (photos below) to depict the luxurious life of the Castle Owners.

The French garden behind the castle was a stunning sight. The wall of the ramparts and the towers were rebuilt at the end of the 15th century, while the French style garden was created only at the end of the 19th century. Embroidery-like patterning of the garden was most distinct from the higher levels of the castle (photo below).
Blooming flowers and magnificent mountain background definitely make a perfect photograph (photos below).

Wonder what souvenirs to get from this castle? Perhaps these figurines could be a good choice (photos below). Each figurine starts from CHF 18.

Admission to the castle cost CHF 9.50 per adult. Opening hours from 1000 to 1630 hours (during Nov to Mar) or 0900 to 1800 hours (during Apr to Oct) daily.

Other Museums in the Town

The Tibet Museum, opened in 2009, houses with over 300 Buddhist sculptures, pictures and ritual works from various Himalayan regions (photos below). It is now located in the midst of the traffic-free town.

The Museum of H. R. Giger is to be found in the nearby small castle of St. Germain. This museum showcases the fantastical art of the Oscar-winner and "Alien" creator (photos below).

We didn't visit the two museums due to our tight schedule.

Lunch at Hotel De Ville

We then decided to have lunch at this Hotel De Ville (photos below).

Ordered a cheese fondue at CHF 25 and a mixed salad at CHF 9 to share among us (photos below). That was my first time to get to taste cheese fondue after staying in Switzerland for more than 4-months. Personally I don't really like the taste of wine in the fondue.

House of Gruyères

As there was some time before our next train, we decided to explore this La Maison du Gruyères (photos below). House of Gruyère, or La Maison du Gruyères in French, is a modern cheese-making factory located right in front of Gruyères train station.

When less activity is happening in the cheese factory, the most impressive part of the visit is probably the maturing cellars where up to 7,000 rounds of Gruyère cheese are stored. However, these cellars can be seen for free at the factory lobby (photos below).

Train Stations of Gruyeres and Broc

Though relatively small in size compared to other Train Stations in major cities, the facades of these two stations are of different design (photos below).

Took train to Broc village from Gruyeres station. Main purpose was to visit the Cailler Chocolate Factory.

Maison Cailler Chocolaterie

Founded in Vevey by François-Louis Cailler in 1819, Cailler is a Swiss chocolate brand and a production factory. It opened its main factory at Broc in 1898 but was subsequently bought by Nestlé in 1929. Today, Cailler is the oldest chocolate brand still in existence in Switzerland. The historical building of the Cailler chocolate factory in Broc now hosts the visitor's centre "Maison Cailler" (photos below).

Manufacturing Process Tour

    The tour started at its ground floor where there is an exhibition where visitors can try all the nuts used in the making of chocolate (left photo below). Besides the exhibition, there is actual production on one of its brand products 'Branches'. We could observe the manufacturing process through the glass panels (right photo below).
    Among the many brands, my favorite is the 'Branches'. It is a cylindrical and rugged branch-looking combination bar. The original Branche consists of a praline center, with a coating of milk chocolate and hazelnut splinters (left photo below) and packed in either red, blue or green aluminum wrapper (right photo below).
Chocolate Sampling

    This was the highlight of the tour. Visitors were allowed to taste the different types of chocolate products after the factory tour in a sampling room (left photo below). There were the flat-squarish chocolate that belongs to the Frigor brand (right photo below).
    The following types belong to the Ambassador brand (photos below).

    Here're another type belonging to the Fémina brand (photos below).

Souvenir Store

    Finally we entered the souvenir store where rows of different chocolate brands covered one side of its walls (left photo below). Making decisions on what to buy was a tough choice for me. Anyway, here were the brands of chocolate I bought from this trip (right photo below).

Train back to Neuchâtel

Along the journey back to Neuchâtel, we saw the Gruyères Castle again from the train (left photo below) and some cows grazing on the green pastures (right photo below). Had this thought that the famous cheese and chocolates definitely owe their fame due to the unpolluted environment of Gruyères. This is where the finest milk is produced.

After several changing of trains and buses, we finally reached Neuchâtel at 2024 hours. With this, it marked the end of my one-day trip to Gruyères.

Copyright © 2010 ·Travel to relax, eat and shop ...... All rights reserved.