If Leslie and I thought having local guides to show us around Geneva was a treat, we had no idea what was in store for us the next day. Early that morning, we loaded the kiddos into the car and headed off toward the delightfully tasty town of Gruyères, Switzerland.
And you guuuuys, the scenery we saw as we drove the hour or so to Gruyères was just about the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen. I was snapping pictures like crazy through the windows of the car, and Natasha was kind enough to stop a few times so I could get better shots of especially pretty spots.
Natasha and the kiddos were really excited to take us to see Maison Callier, a the first chocolate factory in Switzerland. The factory gives tours, and Leslie and I were all over that promise of free samples at the end.
The factory tour begins with a brief history of chocolate, from its revered status as food of the Gods in Central and South America, to its journey across the pond, and finally to the Cailler factory itself, where founder François-Louis Cailler believed the grass and climate in Switzerland made better milk for chocolate making. He must have been right, because he developed the very first soft chocolate that could be formed into bars.
The tour also included a room where you could touch, smell, and taste different raw ingredients that go into making chocolate. For the record: Hazelnuts = delicious. Raw cacao beans = not delicious. Sometimes I wonder about food. I mean, who put a nasty, dry cacao bean in their mouth and (after they finished coughing) decided, “You know, if you fermented these beans, then added in some fat, an emulsifier, some vanilla, and a buttload of sugar, this would be delicious!”
But seriously, whoever did that is my hero. #forrealz
Then there was a hallway where you could watch the chocolate making process, complete with mixing vats, factory workers doin’ their thang, and a mesmerizing robotic arm that I probably watched for like 20 years. You can watch it, too, in that video above—and I promise it’s not 20 years long.
Leslie: I thought the tour here was so fun and informative and interactive. I especially loved the room that told about all the people involved in each process to get the ingredients. Also, who wouldn’t love the part that taught about how taste testers do their work and the testing room with all the delicious chocolates to try… Yumm!
But the best part? The free samples we were promised. I was all like:
Not even ashamed. Nor am I ashamed to say that I went home with about 25lbs of chocolate to share with my family.
Leslie: I left with quite a stash of the best Swiss chocolate, and I still have the baking bars…I haven’t found the perfect recipe to use them in yet.
- Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory
- Official Site
- (5 / 5)Our Rating
La Maison du Gruyère
As if the chocolate wasn’t enough of a treat, the next place Natasha and the kids took us to was a cheese factory a few miles away. We didn’t have time to do the tour here, but we enjoyed watching the robot cheese wheel washer tending to the cheese in the storage room. We also bought a few different types of cheese from the on-site cheese shop to enjoy picnic-style while the kids played on a playground. (And yes, if you’re wondering, we did get Gruyère cheese from the Gruyères cheese factory. Mmmmm!)
Gruyères isn’t just home to delicious chocolate and cheese, it’s also home to a fortified medieval town. It was getting late, so we didn’t stay long, but it was fun to walk around the town, admire the views, and buy some postcards and cute little wooden St. Bernard from a fun gift shop we found. I really wish we’d had more time to spend here, because there were lots of cute shops and the atmosphere was really fun.
Driving Back to Geneva
But the nice thing about the end of a day in a place like Switzerland is that even when you’re leaving beautiful places behind you, you’re bound to see more beautiful places along the drive home. And such was the case today. I cannot get over how beautiful Switzerland is, and we are so grateful to Natasha and her kids for showing us their favorite parts.
Leslie: So fun! I know this and the rest of these places we saw wouldn’t have been possible without our hosts driving us around the countryside, so this was a bonus and it was so nice to do a different type of traveling/sightseeing at the end.
Definitely. If Gruyères, Switzerland isn’t on your bucket list, it should be. Bon Appétit!
Read more about my whirlwind tour of Europe with Leslie here.
And if you liked this post, please share it with your friends. Thank you!