Swiss didn’t invent chocolate. No-one is exactly sure who did.
But the chocolate makers of Switzerland pretty much came up with the idea
of mixing it with milk and sugar to make sweet milk chocolate. The Swiss
didn’t invent trains either, but getting about in Switzerland the
extensive rail system comes in very handy, and leave it to the Swiss to
combine riding on a scenic mountain train to visit a chocolate factory,
like a national Willy Wonka program, a perfect family trip.
SWISS CHOCOLATE TRAIN
A Sweet Ride from Montreux to Gruyères
The Swiss Chocolate Train is a special rail trip made up of historic rail coaches that departs the grand 19th Century resort town of Montreux on Lake Léman (better known as Lake Geneva) to the medieval town of Gruyeres and the Nestlé Cailler Chocolate Factory at Broc. The twisty rail trip takes a day, departing Montreux rail station at 9:36, heading up through the wine grape vineyards of the Vaud region with views back down to the lake and returning about 5:30 pm. You have a choice to ride in the historic 1915 era wagons-lits Pullman rail coaches from the great rail days of the early 20th century, when rail travel was elegant and pampered. There are a couple of coaches of slightly different style, or you can sit in a modern car with panoramic windows which is attached to the end of train with a few seats in the end (the train reverses direction half-way at Montbovon so your trailing view turns into a forward view).
The trip up the mountains winds around with beautiful views of the
valley below, into the land of cows. Once reaching Gruyeres, disembark
for the Gruyere Cheese Factory (its just next to the train station) for
a look at the making of cheese in the town made famous by the familiar
stuff you melt in your fondue pot (see Maison
Gruyere Cheese Tour).
Board a bus for the short trip to the well preserved Gruyeres Castle
which the Savoy’s
once ruled this area (see Castle
Gruyeres). You have some time for lunch on your own, then
the bus carriers
on to Broc for a tour of the Nestle-Callier factory with its brand
new entertainment visitor exhibit, with a chance to sample all the
varieties the Cailler company makes (see Cailler
Chocolate Tour). If
your sweet tooth hasn't rotted, you can also buy some chocolate direct
the train returns in the afternoon to Montreux. The
Switzerland Chocolate Train is all first class and with a Swiss Rail
Pass only a reservation
fee is needed. Without a rail pass you can purchase a ticket for about
$35 (39 chf). Though, without a pass, a visit to Gruyeres Castle is
not included. A Swiss Pass gets you into most all Switzerland museums
for free, one great benefit (see Swiss
Pass). The Chocolate Train only
runs from May to October, five days during the week in July and August,
three days a week in spring and autumn. It does not run in the winter,
on weekends or national holidays, (when the chocolate factory is closed).
In Montreux, one of the main stops of the “Grand Tour” of the 19th Century “La Belle Epoque” when travel was expected as part of a wealthy education, is known for it great magnificent hotels of the golden age where the Astors, British royalty and figures of music and literature frolicked on the shores of Switzerland’s southern lake with it mountain peaks backing the far shore. The famous Castle of Chillon which inspired Lord Byron is a 5 minute bus or train ride to the east (see Chateau Chillon Montreux). Cruise boats ply the waters of the lake on circular tours from Villenueve to Geneva. In July, Montreux hosts the famed Montreux Jazz Festival, in case you’re craving sweet music notes to go with your sweet tooth (see Jazz on Lake Geneva). © Bargain Travel Europe
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