The medieval village of Gruyeres is one of the must-visit places in Switzerland and a visit to the Gruyeres Cheese Factory is one of the top things to do on a visit to Gruyeres. This was our second time visiting Gruyeres, last time we visited there was some confusion with the timings and we missed the Gruyeres Cheese Factory tour. This time we contacted the Gruyeres Tourism. They shared a lot of information with us together with a perfect schedule covering all the major Gruyeres attractions – the Cheese Factory, the Chocolate Factory, and the Gruyeres Village.
Gruyeres is one of the popular day trips from Geneva. Geneva to Gruyeres is only a couple of hour train ride with a very good frequency of trains. The Gruyeres Cheese Factory is just a couple of minutes walk from the Gruyeres train station.
Gruyeres Cheese Factory was the first stop on the Gruyeres day trip. As soon as we reached the cheese factory entrance we were greeted by the jingling of cowbells accompanied by the gushing of streams which seemed to come from the hill in front of us. We were enchanted by the view of a chalet perched on the hill amidst the lush meadow with a backdrop of mountains and the colorful fall foliage. What a beautiful start to the day!
A lady at the reception welcomed us with samples of Gruyeres Cheese aged for different months. After a brief introduction of the factory tour, we collected our audio guides and started the tour. The tour of the factory is a self-guided audio tour with the audio tour available in thirteen languages. The tour takes around 30-45 minutes.
The story of cheese, its origin, and processing is narrated by a cow named Cherry which was quite funny and we are sure it would make the tour quite interesting for the kids.
Every year during the summer the alpine herders follow a traditional process of moving the cows up the mountain called Alpine Transhumance. During their time up the mountains, all through the summer, the cows are treated with pure air and stream water and feed on fresh meadow grass along with herbs and flowers. The cows eat about 100 kilos of grass and about 85 litres of water every day and in turn yields about 25 litres of milk each day.
The section consisted of several points where we could smell the different herbs or flowers which the cow eats along with the grass like Thyme, Cumin, Vanilla Orchid, Clovers, Violette, Narcisse, Orge which gives milk and the cheese a unique flavor and aroma. It is interesting to know that the scientists have discovered 75 different scents in the cheese owing to all the different kinds of herbs and flowers that the cow eats. Intriguing enough!
As we walked into the next room the panels on the wall read some important information on cheese production. It is interesting to know that it takes 400 liters of milk to produce a 35-kilo cheese!
In a small section, we could touch and feel the different items associated with cheese processing like herbs, cow-hide, cowbell, milk canisters, hay and other items.
On the other side through the glass walls, we could see huge copper containers stirring the milk. Each of these containers is said to hold 4800 litres of milk yielding 12 Gruyere cheese each of 35 kg. We learned how the milk is heated and some natural ingredients are added to get the unique flavor of Gruyeres. How the texture and the elastic consistency is manually tested before putting the cheese slice into the press.
The production of cheese concludes with submersion of the cheese into the salt water for about 20 hours which is said to accelerate the aging process. And then the cheese is taken to the cellar for maturing.
As we walked around there were a lot of boards with information on cheese processing and also on the history of Gruyeres. There was also a display screen where questions on Gruyeres and the cheese production popped up and we had fun guessing the answers. In one of the lobbies, the focus lights displayed images which provided information on how the color of the cheese changed with aging. Surely a lot of fun activities to keep the kids busy.
At the end of the tour, we had a look at the cellar with wheels of cheese stored for maturing. The cheese is stored in the cellar for about 5 months at a temperature of between 12 to 18 deg c and a relative humidity of approximately 92%. The cellar has a capacity to hold around 7000 wheels. Visitors aren’t allowed into the cellar for hygiene reasons.
There is a souvenir shop in the factory premises where you can buy some lovely cowbells, Swiss Chocolates, honey, packaged meat and fresh Gruyeres Cheese. The shops also sold kitchen accessories like cookware, aprons, gloves, fondue pots, cups and much more.
Next to the cellar, an old man sold some beautiful handcrafted wood carved items which could also make for some great gift items and souvenirs to take back home.
There is also a restaurant in the factory premises where you can taste some local Gruyeres Cheese delicacies like Fondue, Soup de Chalet and Plateau de Gruyeres with salad and some delicious desserts. They also offer packages where you can combine the cheese factory tour with a meal at the restaurant.
Open Time and Schedule
The Cheese Factory is open every day from 9 AM to 6.30 PM (Closes by 6.00 PM from Oct to May). The cheese making process takes place only from 9 am to 11 am and from 12.30 pm to 14.30 pm, the first we visited we reached at 11 am and had to wait until 1 PM for it to reopen and hence we had to skip it. The Souvenir shop and the restaurant have different working hours which you can check here.
How to Reach Gruyeres Village
From Gruyeres Cheese Factory we boarded a bus to Gruyeres Village. The bus stops right across the street from the factory and drops you at the start of the medieval village of Gruyeres. The charming village has beautiful chalet style buildings and restaurants where you can try some local cheese specialties. The major points of interest here are the Gruyeres Castle, HR Giger Museum, and the Tibet Museum.
How to Reach Chocolate Factory
From Gruyeres train station next to the Cheese Factory, take a train to Bulle and then a train to Broc-Fabrique. The Cailler Chocolate Factory is a couple of minutes walk from the train station. And if you are heading from the Gruyeres Village you can take a bus to Broc, Le Home and from there the factory is 10 minutes walk.
We hope you enjoyed a tour of the Gruyeres Cheese Factory with us. Have you been to the Gruyeres Cheese Factory? Do share your experience with us.
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Many Thanks to La Gruyere Tourism for supporting our Gruyeres tour. All the museum tours were complimentary. As always, all opinions are our own.