“ Address: CH-1663 Pringy-Gruyères / Switzerland / Phone ++41 (0) 26 921 84 00 „
La Maison du Gruyere is one (or rather one of the homes) of the famous Swiss cheese Gruyere. We thought that it wouldn't be right to come to Switzerland and not at least visit either a chocolate or cheese factory, two of their big exports. Due to limited time in the area, we only managed to get to the Maison du Gruyere (there is a Callier Chocolate Factory in nearby Broc) but we were pleased that we had.
We took the train from Geneva to Palezieux, where there is theh a little red train that then transports you to right opposite the cheese factory, albeit with quite a few stops along the way. The old twon of Gruyere itself is a short, but steep walk about the hill, starting from La Maison du Gruyere.
Coming out of the railway station, La Maison is in front of you, though no doubt the crowds will make you look anyhow. The outside building is not attractive not terribly inviting, but it is worth taking the time to go inside. There is a large gift shop (selling fresh cheese) to the left of the main entrance, as well as a large restaurant, which offers a wide range of dishes, most, if no all, with gruyere cheese included. The main ticket desk is right in at the entrance.
An adult ticket into the exhibition and cheese making is 7 CHF, which is pretty reasonable for an expensive country like Switzerland. There is also a reduced student and senior citizen rate of 6 CHF. You can also take advantage of a family rate and group rate discount. We opted for a combined ticket for La Maison du Gruyere and Le Chateau de Gruyere, which cost 13.50 CHF each. Having previously travelled around expensive Norway, we were actually quite shocked at how reasonable the price for admission to both these attractions was. Once you purchase your tickets, you are given a small sample pack each, with contains three cheeses of three different strengths. It was fast approaching lunchtime, and we were glad to be able to nibble on these as we walked around, although you will need some water with you, as there is quite a hefty salt content.
After paying, you then get admission to the exhibition. Headsets for the exhibition come in a wide range of language including enlgish, german, french, spanish and japanese. The exhibition is very well laid out, and you follow the pictures and numbers guiding you round. You punch in the number of the exhibition picture onto your headset and then you hear a little bit about that particular area of the exhibition. You also get the chance to smell a lot of the wild flowers that the local cows eat that add to the unique taste of the Gruyere cheese.
Further round the exhibition is the actual demonstration area. You are able to overlook it, through glass, although the lady at the admission desk told us that the whole cheese making process takes a couple of hours. Cheese making is supposed to be on between 9am and 11am and 12.30pm and 2.30pm. We were there after 12.30 pm and there wasn't a lot happening at that stage in the process. There are however videos showing all the various stages of the production, and we found it very interesting to watch.
At the end of the self tour, you can go to the cellars to see all the cheese. YOu can also watch the robot as it flips the cheese and then puts it back in its position.
Before leaving, we stopped off at the restaurant to enjoy a spot of lunch which was lovely.
All in all, this is a very good place to visit. The Gruyere cheese is delicious, albeit quite salty, bu we learnt a lot, and it would be a very informative and educational place to take children to. Well worth the very reasonable admission fee.