Gruyère: Hiking the Swiss Chocolate and Cheese Trail

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hiking in Gruyère

We came to Gruyère lured by promises of sublime views and flavors—and Gruyère certainly delivered. It is a region with a great variety of dramatic landscapes to explore and deliciously rich delights to sate your palate.

It took us a little under two hours to drive our rented car from Geneva to the town of Charmey on a Thursday afternoon. If you decide to drive here, too, make sure you take a car with some horsepower—there are more than a few uphill roads and you don't want to worry, as we did, that you'd have to jump out and push a little Puegeot up the mountain. The drive is gorgeous, especially when the road wraps around the lovely city of Montreux. We drove to the recommended starting point of the hike, Charmey, and parked our car at the museum where it stayed safely while we went off to explore. Charmey is also well known for its spas but we had other indulgences in mind. We went into an unassuming little boulangerie to have some quiche and salad for lunch, topped off with coffee and the meringue dipped in double cream that this region is famous for. I have loved meringue since I was a kid but have never before tasted them dipped in rich cream. It's a life-changing experience that you cannot miss if you're in the area!

Meringues and Gruyère double cream

Hopped up on sugar and caffeine, we felt ready to take on a 2-hour hike. From the residential area, we found our way to rolling green hills set against lush tree-covered peaks. It's the type of landscape that makes you want to burst in song like Maria and the von Trapps. 

Hiking in Gruyère, Switzerland

Not long after, our path turned into a wooded forest edged by turquoise waters. It soon led us to a suspension bridge where J couldn't help but jump up and down to make me feel queasy. The bridge isn't that long though so I made it through (and snapped some photos midway to annoy him right back).

Hiking in Gruyère, Switzerland
Hiking in Gruyère, Switzerland

The path brings you to the shore of Lac Montsalvans, one of Fribourg's reservoirs, then to the impressive dam that it feeds. From there, it descends into Jaunbach Gorge, which to me is the most beautiful part of the hike. Here you go through numerous tunnels and wooden walkways, and see small cascades and beautiful rock galleries carved by rushing water through the centuries. The gorge is usually open from April to October only because the water levels can change very quickly, so take this into account when planning your hike.

Jaunbach Gorge, Gruyère, Switzerland
Jaunbach Gorge, Gruyère, Switzerland
Jaunbach Gorge, Gruyère, Switzerland
Jaunbach Gorge, Gruyère, Switzerland

The nature walk ends in the town of Broc, where if you have better timing than us, you can visit the chocolate factory of Cailler and cap off your hike with some delicious Swiss chocolate. We finished our hike right as the factory was closing so we rewarded ourself with a beer in town instead before hopping on a bus back to Charmey to fetch our car.

Sheep in Broc, Gruyère, Switzerland
Charmey, Gruyère, Switzerland

From Charmey, we drove up to the Old Town of Gruyère to claim our reward for the day's exertions: a sumptuous dinner of fondue and wine. The Old Town is impossibly charming, with its cobblestone streets and Medieval buildings set against craggy mountain peaks. We dined on the terrace of Le Chalet de Gruyere, one of the most adorable little buildings in town. Our feast of viande séchée (traditional Swiss cured meat) and young potatoes, bread, pearl onions and cornichons dunked into that big pot of melted cheese was the perfect end to a day of many delights.  

The Old Town of Gruyère, Switzerland

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  1. You've really made me want to visit Switzerland with all your post. All that cheese and chocolate, and those beautiful landscape... what could be better for some time off work?

    1. Glad to hear Lucille! It's definitely one of my favorite places so far in Switzerland. And I repeat, the double cream is life-changing!!!