About Gruyeres (the Village, that is)
This past weekend we went on a road trip about 2 hours southwest of Zürich, and found ourselves in the very heart of cheese country – Gruyère of course! But wait, shouldn’t that be Gruyères as it is written in the above photo? Truth is, we drove all around la Gruyère, stayed in Gruyères and ate way too much of le Gruyère! There must be a typo somewhere in there, no? After being terribly confused myself, having read articles on the region and the cheese in both English and French, I couldn’t figure out who was making the error. There was no mistake at all. It turns out there are in fact 2 spellings and even 2 different genders in French. Here’s a breakdown: Gruyères (plural with an ‘s’) is the name of the village that’s situated in the region of La Gruyère (feminine singular), where you can find the cheese that goes by the same name, Le Gruyère (masculine singular). Any which way you spell it, it’s a picturesque, medieval town in a beautiful region, and one delicious cheese! Which, by the way, has no holes… but more on that later!
When you walk up the hill and enter the small town of Gruyères, you’ll be immediately taken in by its charm. There is only one small cobblestone street, yet there is enough to see, do and taste to fill up your day – and your stomach.
Pick your side of the street with its quaint old houses and hanging signs, and fall into any of the many restaurants offering dishes with local products. Fondue, raclette, soupe du chalet, croûte en fromage, rösti au fromage…
In all of the above dishes, the cheese of choice is Gruyère of course – the most famous product of this dairy rich region. Not far behind is the immensely thick and rich double cream that is served atop meringues and fresh berries. Be prepared to read next all about the multiple fondues we had this weekend (traditional recipe included), the many tons of sugar from those meringues, and the frightful quantity of butterfat from the cream. For now, I’ll leave you with these images of Gruyères, a village right out of a storybook with its ancient castle to visit as well, rich in history going back over 8 centuries. Imagine climbing up the dungeon walls and looking out at the valley. That should work up an appetite on your end for the following posts to come…
In Gruyères, I’d recommend staying at the La Fleur de Lys, a hotel on the main street with a traditional wooden interior and comfortable rooms. Just keep in mind that a Swiss “double room” actually just means two single beds pushed together. A generous buffet breakfast is included and is a great way to start the day – fresh breads, butter, jams and honey, thick Swiss yogurt and of course a selection of local cheeses. After treating myself to the entire buffet, the waitress still couldn’t believe that was all that I wanted to eat. Completely flustered, I asked her what a typical breakfast was here. Her answer: fondue.
Hotel Restaurant Fleur de Lys
You can get a room with a view over the main street, or over the valley, as in the photo below.