If you're here when the tour buses aren't, you'll discover one of the most charming villages on the Continent.
At the entrance to town, at the foot of a hill near the railway station, the Swiss Cheese Union operates a model dairy, Fromagerie de Démonstration, près de la Gare, at Pringy (tel. 026/921-84-00), for demonstration purposes. Here you can see workers produce the famed Gruyère cheese (a single wheel weighs 75 lb.), which is a more piquant version of the equally famous Emmenthaler. An audiovisual show reveals how the cheese is made. The dairy is open daily from 9am to noon and 1:30 to 7pm, but it's best to go between 10 and 11am or 2 and 3pm, when the cheese is actually being made. In July and August, daily hours are 7am to 7pm. For more information, contact the tourism office .
The traditional lunch in all the restaurants here is raclette. A machine is usually placed on your table, so you can melt and scrape the cheese at your own speed. You can eat right down to the rind, which is considered by many to be the best part of the raclette. In the right season, you can finish with a large bowl of fresh raspberries in thick cream.
You can walk the cobblestone road to the Château Gruyères (tel. 026/921-21-02; www.chateau-gruyeres.ch), passing the house of the famed court jester Chalamala. Dating mostly from the 15th century, the castle, or château, is owned today by the canton of Fribourg. In 1848, the Bovy family of Geneva acquired it and ordered many of its embellishments. Several famous artists, including Corot, have lived here. The château is filled with objets d'art, the most outstanding of which are three mourning copes from the Order of the Golden Fleece -- part of the bounty grabbed up in the Burgundian wars. It's open April to October daily 9am to 6pm, November to March daily 10am to 4:30pm. Admission is 9.50F.
Fantasy Porn, Gynecological Obsessions & More
There's nothing quite like the H. R. Giger Museum, Château St-Germain (tel. 026/921-22-00; www.hrgigermuseum.com), in all of Switzerland. The Swiss-born graphic artist H. R. Giger won an Oscar for the special effects he created for the film Alien. Many of his key works are on display here, including grotesque paintings and sculpture, bizarre furniture, and film designs, many from the early 1960s. On the top floor is a permanent display of Giger's own private collection. Wait until you see the glowing red room with "erotic aliens" in compromising positions -- it's something to write home about. Admission is 13F for adults and 8.50F for students. April to October, hours are daily 10am to 6pm. In winter, hours are Tuesday to Friday 11am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.