One of the top things to do in Gruyeres, the charming medieval town in Switzerland is a visit to the chocolate factory and indulge in some delectable chocolate tasting. La Maison Cailler Chocolate factory is one of the oldest chocolate factories in Switzerland founded by François-Louis Cailler in 1819 and the factory in Broc in Gruyeres is the only factory that manufactures the Cailler brand. Your visit to Switzerland will be incomplete without indulging in some delightful Cailler Swiss chocolate tasting.
The Chocolate factory at Broc in Gruyeres is a couple of hours train journey from Geneva and Zurich and less than an hour from the Swiss capital Bern. You can either take a bus or a train to Broc, the best option recommended is a train to the Broc-Fabrique station which is just 2 minutes walk from the factory.
One can also opt for a completely unique experience aboard the Chocolate train will runs from Montreux to Gruyeres through the stunning Swiss landscapes. There is some surprise chocolate and cheese treat onboard. The travel in the antique first class coaches includes a visit to the Cailler chocolate factory, the Gruyeres cheese factory and a bus to the Gruyere village and castle. The Chocolate trains run only from May to mid-October and on particular days of the week. More details here.
Cailler Chocolate Factory – Ticket and Opening Times
The factory is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm from April to October and closes early at 4 pm from November until March with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s Days. More details on open times and prices here.
Once you buy your tickets you are allocated a tour time which is the same for a group of 8-10 people. You need to collect your audio guide and wait inside the building for your turn. We visited during the offseason still had to wait for around 15 minutes, the waiting times are said to be as high as couple hours during the peak season so plan accordingly.
History of Chocolate
The tour starts with the brief introduction and proceeds to a fascinating part of story narration – The Aztec cocoa ceremonies and the chocolate. The audio-visual storytelling narrates the history of Chocolate introduced into Europe and role of Switzerland in the Chocolate making. The narration is in English so if you prefer any other language you will need to tune in to the audio guide which comes with several different languages.
The story narration started through the dark forests of Mesoamerica where the Aztecs first tasted the chocolate way back in the 14th century as a bitter and spicy hot drink. The Aztecs are said to have received chocolate from the God of wisdom – Quetzalcoatl. The Aztecs then used the cocoa beans as currency and introduced chocolate to Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortés who in turn introduced cocoa beans or the brown gold and the exotic chocolate drink to Spain.
In early 16th century, chocolate was introduced to France when Anna, Princess of Spain, married the French king Louis XIII and soon chocolate was popular through most part of Europe.
The concluding part of narration talked about François-Louis Cailler founding the chocolate factory, its history and about its merger with Nestle. The chocolate tour narrating the history of chocolate is one of its kind and definitely one of the fun things to do with kids.
Ingredients and Raw Materials
The tour ended into a room filled with raw materials and ingredients of chocolate for you to touch, feel and smell. There were jute bags filled with dried cocoa beans, boxes filled with roasted cocoa beans, almonds, hazelnuts and the yummilicious cocoa butter which is obtained from the roasted cocoa beans.
Towards the end of the tour before the tasting session was this depiction on how to find a rich chocolate – The color of chocolate should be appealing, then you need to smell the chocolate and sense the rich flavors, then touch the chocolate should not be very hard or soft but should be nutty and finally taste, well we doubt if anyone possess the patience to go through these details when loads of chocolates are waiting to melt into your senses.
From here you can actually walk past the machines behind the glass walls manufacturing the Cailler chocolates from melted chocolate to small chocolates coming out wrapped for you to taste.
The tour finally ends at the most awaited and irresistible part the ‘chocolate tasting’.
Unlimited Chocolate tasting – The favorite part of Tour
Switzerland is known as the land of fantasies and fairytales, can be it fancier than walking through a room filled with the heavenly aroma of fine ingredients past the live manufacturing of chocolates to the room with a wide assortment of decadent chocolates for unlimited tasting. Sounds like a fairytale indeed!
The chocolate tasting part is sure to titillate your taste buds with the aromas of fine cocoa, sweet Alpine milk, and some of the best ingredients.
The Cailler factory offers numerous chocolate making classes and workshops under the guidance of a Cailler chocolate maker. One can learn the art of tempering, conching, and ganache-making from expertise in German, English, French and Italian languages.At the end of the classes you can take home some delicious handmade treats.
If you keen on learning more about the Cailler chocolate and its history you can attend a multimedia show at the end of the tour. (It’s better to visit at the end so that you don’t miss out on your tour start time). The show ends with a quiz where you can test your knowledge of chocolate and its history.
There is a Cailler factory shop where you can buy from a wide choice of locally produced chocolates and some great souvenirs to take back as gifts. For best deals, it is recommended to head to the Nestle factory outlet close to the Broc train station.
The cafe at the factory serves hot and cold chocolate drinks, sandwiches, desserts and light chocolaty treats.
This graceful statue completely made out of chocolate was on display in the cafe. This piece is said to be created out of 42 kg of Cailler dark chocolate for the finals of the ‘Chocolates Masters in Paris’ in October 2015 for the theme ‘Inspiration from Nature’.
There is a play area at the entrance of the factory building for the kids. It was crowded when we visited but should help if your tour waiting time is too long.
Would you like to pin this post?
Many Thanks to La Gruyere Tourism for supporting our Gruyeres tour. The chocolate factory tour was complimentary. As always, all opinions are our own.