I mentioned during my sister’s visit that we finally had the opportunity to have another Wonka experience at the Cailler Chocolate Factory, and visit cheese paradise, the beautiful town of Gruyères. This is likely the most popular day trip from Geneva (beyond Annecy) where many of our friends have brought guests, so we were excited to check it out for ourselves!
While “as the crow flies” the Fribourg region where both are located, isn’t terribly far from Geneva, it’s by train about a 2.5 hour trip both ways. Get a good night’s sleep beforehand!
While it seems somewhat counterintuitive to “eat dessert first” – do start at the Cailler chocolate factory.
As weekly shoppers of Cailler bars, we were even more excited for this tour as my sister once worked for the now-owner of Cailler, Nestle. We visited on a bank holiday and ticket lines were fairly long (tickets 9 CHF for adults and available in a variety of languages) but you can get a truly delectable hot chocolate and snack inside their cafe while you wait. The tour itself is a bit hokey, but starts with a very interactive display and narration of the origins of chocolate – first as a warrior’s bitter drink in the Aztec period, to a party staple of the social set in aristocratic Europe, all the way to explaining the modern factory infrastructure where they source beans from Africa, add some Swiss dairy, and create delicious treats to be served around the globe.
We learned that the Swiss far prefer milk to dark chocolate and while they might concede to the Belgians as having better dark chocolate, they take pride in having the best milk chocolate due to the superiority of Swiss cows. Who knew! As like the US – white chocolate takes a distant third in priority.
The best part of the entire day is the tasting room. They literally leave you alone to have as much chocolate as you want – no time limit, no chocolate limit. It was heavenly despite the early hour.
Definitely check out their tourist store at the end as well – you can buy many of their products in Swiss grocery stores, but if you want merchandise, or to purchase a bulk package of “broken bars” for cheaper – this is your place!
To head to Gruyères, if you’re fortunate to have a car, you just have about a 15 minute drive ahead. It’s about a 40 minute train trip or an hour walk if you are so inclined – friends had told us to just take the train (but be sure to time it right! We did not,)
The Gruyères Cheese Factory is exactly where the train lets off, so it is a perfect stop after chocolate. By following Switzerland’s famous yellow hiking signs, you can easily follow the path into the charming town. Craving some necessary savory for our sweet teeth, we first went to lunch in the gorgeous village. First up of course, my sister had to try her first fondue and raclette. She was not disappointed, and like us, preferred the raclette!
Following lunch, we walked around the beautiful shops nestled on cobblestone streets …
visited the outside of the castle…
and marveled at the Fribourg views- even on a cloudy day.
Heading back to the train, we intended to visit the Gruyères Cheese Factory for yet another tour, but truthfully, after the chocolate tasting room and a big lunch – we were completely stuffed. We’re told it too can be a little cheesy (the audio tour is narrated by a cow…) but a worthwhile venture nonetheless! With samples of course. 🧀
The long train home is a perfect place to ride off your food coma – and to reflect on a beautiful early fall day. We had a blast and it was so great to enjoy the day with my sister during her awesome visit. We’re so grateful she joined us in this gorgeous and decadent country!
IN THE INTERIM, FOLLOW ALONG ON INSTAGRAM AND VISIT THE TRAVEL TRACKER IF YOU HAVE MISSED A POST!
THANKS AS ALWAYS FOR READING – AND LET ME KNOW WHERE WE SHOULD VISIT NEXT!