Switzerland – Part 2 : Gruyères.
If you have ever dreamed of visiting Europe and want to include magnificent scenery at every turn, gorgeous old castles and delicious food, then you have to make a stop in Switzerland. Granted I have not been to many European countries, but I have visited a few and none captured my heart the way Switzerland did. This is part 2 in my mini series on this beautiful place. You can read the first post here.
I have to admit that touring Europe with someone from the region is far more interesting and informative, you also see far more of the culture and day to day life than if you’re visiting with a tour. Having lived in Switzerland for 15 years, Michelle and Daniele were the most amazing hosts and really showed me the heart of their portion of Switzerland.
On my first weekend in Ollon we had full 2 days of touring and our first stop was the beautiful town of Gruyères. This medieval town is known for its cheese of the same name – and as I came to discover….it’s meringues (oh.my.word! they were so good!! I even brought a box home for my family!! And yes they survived the plane trip in tact!! Much to my families delight. 😀 ). As with most of the Swiss towns I saw, Gruyères is nestled at the foot of magnificent mountains and has a 13th-century hilltop castle (or Château – which sounds so much cooler haha 🙂 ).
Cheese glorious cheese
Our first stop in town was La Maison du Gruyère to see the huge wheels of cheese and the cheese room (I’m sure it has a really fancy name, but in my mind it’s just the cheese room). This is where the cheese matures. There are rows and rows of shelves, all filled with huge rounds of cheese in various stages of maturity. There is a very nifty little robot that glides up and down the rows and it stops at each shelf and turns over each and every round of cheese. This is apparently a key part of the aging and drying process as it ensures the moisture, fat and protein are equally distributed throughout the cheese – giving you the smooth, rich flavours throughout. I have never been a huge cheese buff and am not adventurous at all when it comes to trying new flavours of cheese and I loved seeing how the process unfolds, so if cheese is your thing, this is definitely worth adding to your MUST SEE list.
Real life Castle
From the minute you step through the entrance of the 400 year old castle you can see for miles in every direction from the castle walls and it’s easy to imagine being a villager in this little hilltop sanctuary going about your daily life, whilst knowing that the guards and those really big walls have your back.
As in times gone by, the town within the fortress is still there with apartments and hotels lining the main street. I even spotted an apartment or 2 that were for sale. I wouldn’t want to know how much they actually were, but it’s nice to dream of living within walking distance of a real life castle.
It really is a feast for the eyes – everywhere I looked there was something that caught my attention. I love old buildings and especially the ornate doors, so being in a place like this was a little piece of heaven for me. The history and stories these walls could tell if they could talk….and to top off our experience we happened to walk into the square as a group of Swiss yodellers did an impromptu performance.