The fact that the towns of Gruyeres and Broc – home to fine Swiss cheese and chocolate, respectively – are so close to one another is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in the sense that you can easily visit both in the course of a single day trip. And it’s a curse in the sense that, if you do, and if you go full-out at each, you will be consuming an epic amount of cheese and chocolate. Inevitably, you end your day with a bit of that Thanksgiving afternoon food coma feeling: happily stuffed, but almost uncomfortably so.
I visited Gruyeres first (climbing up to the Chateau in an attempt to atone for all the cheese and chocolate consumption) and then headed on to Broc. Upon arrival, I made my way to the Cailler Factory, home to some seriously delicious Swiss chocolate. The best part of the Cailler experience is the unlimited chocolate tasting, but to get there, you have to pass through the exhibits and factory first. Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to wander through on your own; rather, you are placed with a group and ushered through a series of rooms with doors that open and close automatically to coincide with the narration coming through the speakers. So, there’s no skipping the displays on chocolate’s history, which is slightly unfortunate, as this part of the tour is pretty cheesy. For example: you’ll see cheap recreations of Aztec jungles with silly narration and overly dramatic music playing in the background.
Once you get through the rooms chronicling the history of chocolate, you arrive at the factory portion of the tour, where you can see how the chocolate is made. At this point, you’re released from your tour group and are free to explore on your own. I found this portion of the tour much more interesting!
But the real reason for visiting Cailler is, of course, the chocolate itself, and when you come to the end of the tour, you’ll find an all-you-can-eat selection of Cailler’s chocolates. You can’t take any of it with you (though there’s plenty more to purchase in the gift shop), but you are free to sample to your heart’s content while you remain in the room.
There were obviously many varieties to choose from but my favorite remained plain old lait – that is, milk chocolate. In my opinion, Swiss chocolate is so delicious on its own that you don’t need to add anything to it – better to enjoy it in its purest form.
After finishing the tour, you can head to the gift shop to buy even more chocolate (not that you will need it at this point). I did notice that many of the prices here were slightly cheaper than you would find in stores, so even if the thought of consuming more chocolate makes you slightly nauseous at the moment, it’s not a bad place to stock up for the future.
Ultimately, I felt about the Cailler Factory like I did La Maison du Gruyere: the museums is not anything to write home about (and, indeed, it’s downright silly), but getting a chance to sample those gourmet treats is worth the trip. Just make sure you go on a very empty stomach.