village with a glorious past
Located in the Canton of Fribourg, the
whole region of which Gruyères village is the best-known
attraction is known as La Gruyère. The region includes
the long Lac de la Gruyère and the Sarine valley, south
the landscape is the great towering wedge of the Moléson,
a jutting chunk of mountain rising to 2002meters. From the heights
of the Moléson, the panorama encompasses the skies, the
Alps, the Plateau and Lake geneva. On the right, the Castle of
Gruyères and the Moléson painted by me. :o)
hill town of Gruyères has preserved its magnificent medieval
appearance. Boutiques, art galleries, crafts shops and restaurants
can be found in the town's cobble-stoned main street.
famous product of Gruyère is by far the Gruyère
cheese, a delicious cheese with a distinctive taste, made in
the the surrounding countryside, in chalets in a cauldron over
a wood fire, or in village dairies. The cheese accounts for the
worldwide fame of the Gruyère region.
foot of Gruyères village, in the adjacent village of Pringy
(the actual location of Gruyères train station), there
is a working dairy where people can watch the cheesemaking process.
very popular in the region is the Gruyère Cream, a thick
cream skimmed off milk, one of the region's specialities. It
tastes almost alike the Brazilian "creme-de-leite",
which is used here to accompany strawberries or used to make
mousses and other desserts.
In early autumn, the
people of Gruyère celebrate the end of the harvest and
the return of the cows to the plain after a period of six months
spent in the mountain pastures. This is called la Bénichon.
plain, La Bénichon takes place at the end of September,
whereas in the mountains, it is celebrated in the second weekend
of October. It is a day when local specialities can be enjoyed
with the family and friends, at farms or at restaurants.
is a celebration at the end of September to mark the descent
of the herds from the high mountain pastures. Apart from the
tribute paid to the armaillis - the Fribourg herdsmen - at the
end of the grazing season, festivities include an arts and crafts
market and a whole host of entertainment revolving around local
to the legend, the word Gruyère comes from Gruérius,
a capitain who in 436, choose the Gruyère region to settle.
to the historian Hisely, the word Gruyère comes from "Grand-gruyer",
(en langue romane) or "garde forestier" (forest keeper).
The "Grand-gruyer" administrated the part that was
named la gruerie.
Château de Gruyères
Medieval castle on the top of a hill
Switzerlands most photogenic sights. The château
was formerly the regional seat of power, occupied from 1080 to
1554 by the nineteen counts of Gruyères, but was decimated
by a fire in 1493 which destroyed virtually everything but the
occupants reconstructed the living quarters in a lavish Savoyard
style; Michael, the final Count of Gruyères, ran up huge
debts doing this and then fled, leaving his creditors
the governments of Fribourg and Bern to divide up his
lands between them.
Geneva dynasty, the Bovy and Balland families, bought the castle
in 1848 and supported a number of artists in residence, including
the French landscape painter Corot, before the cantonal government
of Fribourg took over maintenance of the castle in 1938.
to the castle is made by a walk on Gruyèress picturesque
main street with its central fountain and quaint old houses on
either side bedecked with hanging signs. A huge gate at the end
affords entry to the castle grounds.
only street and the impressive medieval castle attracts a large
number of tourists every year.
the street that leads to the entrance of the castle. On the left
you can see the grain measures, used to measure the grains in
the Medieval times.
aerial view of the castle and the street that leads to its gate.
from another perspective. The Moléson is the mountain
on the right of the picture.
the castle there are beautiful Flemish tapestries decorating
the counts bedchamber, Corots room with landscapes
painted by him, and other rooms throughout the castle with grand
fireplaces, heraldic stained glass, often featuring the dynastic
symbol of a crane (la grue, in French), and booty from the Battle
of Murten where Louis II, Count of Gruyère, fought on
the Swiss side.
couple of extremely odd counterpoints to the grandeur of the
castle, there is at the gate of the castle, the Centre International
de lArt Fantastique, a small gallery devoted to modern
fantasy art of the world famous H. R. Giger (known for movies
such as Alien).
the castle is property of the Canton of Fribourg since 1938.
you can see the castle on top of the hill, on the left of the
picture, and the Moléson, the high mountain on the right.