As a part of our 5 days in Switzerland, another day trip we took from Lausanne was based around swiss chocolate and cheese – what could be better than that!
I had read that one of the more scenic Swiss rail trips as being aboard the Swiss Panoramic Train on the GoldenPass Line. The GoldenPass runs from Montreux to Lucerne and is 191km of some of the most gorgeous scenery you will see.
The panoramic trains have overhead windows, so you get to see more scenery on the train journey. You can also elect to upgrade to VIP seats, which are right at the front of the train. We had a first-class rail ticket for our time in Switzerland but elected not to upgrade to the VIP. To be honest, I thought our seats were pretty spectacular. I think the VIP would only be worth the extra $$ if you could guarantee the absolute first row – which has floor to ceiling windows.
On this particular day, we were heading to Gruyères – the home of Gruyere cheese!
The section of the GoldenPass we took was from Montreux to Montbovon. From Montbovon you then jump on another line to Gruyères. From the train station, you walk about 10-15 minutes to the picture-perfect medieval town. The town itself sits high on a hill overlooking the countryside. It was the epitome of a medieval, cobblestoned, walled city.
Castle of Gruyères
This town has its own castle and it has magnificent views over the alpine countryside. Entry to the castle is about $15AUD and you spend an hour or two wandering the numerous rooms and ramparts.
There is some very beautiful artwork on display and many intricate frescos to keep you entertained. My favourite part was the view over the beautifully sculptured garden from the balcony.
La Maison du Gruyere
A visit to Gruyères would not be complete without a visit to the cheese factory, La Maison du Gruyere. The factory is located right next to the train station so we headed there after exploring the walled town.
As well as being an operational cheese factory it is also a museum for their history and cheese-making process. Entry into the cheese factory was about $10AUD and includes an audio guide. Part of the exhibition is being able to see how they make cheese. The tour took about 40mins and was worth visiting.
Maison Callier, Broc
The Mason Callier, a swiss chocolate factory, is about a 30-minute train ride from Gruyères (via Bulle). It is also Switzerland’s oldest chocolate brand.
Make sure you look back at the Gruyères city as you pull away from the train station as it is a gorgeous view.
Entry to Callier is about $14AUD and let me say it is worth that and more. You will eat that in chocolate. Entry into the factory is by tours only, so be sure to check out what times the tour for your language is leaving.
It was fascinating to learn about the process and it’s quite hands-on, so that was pretty cool. But the best bit, by far, was the tasting room at the end. There are bowls of chocolate along the tour, but nothing compares to the end. They had every flavour of chocolate they make available to taste at the end of the tour. There was so much we had to work out which ones we wanted to try as there was no way I could have sampled them all (and we are chocoholics). We visited their store afterwards and stocked up on a multitude of bars for the family back home.
Our hunger now satisfied from all the cheese and chocolate, we headed back to Lausanne via the GoldenPass route.