Fancy spending some time amid a picture-postcard landscape in the heart of Switzerland? The Fribourg Region, especially the village of Charmey, is a charming place to visit: romantic little towns, fragrant Alpine meadows, steaming thermal baths, enchanting lakes, snowy slopes and ancient customs that survive to this very day. Whatever the time of year, you’re guaranteed to have an experience that will delight all your senses.
It’s hardly surprising that this idyllic area has produced a real superstar: Le Gruyère, the world-famous cheese with PDO status. The flavoursome milk used to produce it comes from cows that graze on the fragrant flora and lush grass of Alpine meadows. Alpine cheese dairies in the region are open to the public and happy to show visitors how the delicious cheese is made. And in summer, you can even enjoy Fribourg speciality fondue moitié-moitié (made with Vacherin and Gruyère) while marvelling at the fantastic views of the Moléson and the Fribourg Pre-Alps from the comfort of the Charmey cable car.
The whole area is steeped in agricultural tradition and customs, including wood-shingle roofs, colourful Alpine cattle processions, herb festivals, Poya (paintings depicting the migration of the herds to and from their Alpine pastures) and a romantic farmer’s trail. Speaking of trails, the area is also great for a whole range of outdoor activities thanks to a network of hiking, cross-country skiing and bike trails, not to mention ski slopes. For thrill seekers, there is also paragliding and a zipwire. If you visit the small photogenic town of Gruyères, make sure you have your camera with you. An absolute must for those with a sweet tooth: the Maison Cailler chocolate factory in the little village of Broc.
If you’re looking for relaxation and a bit of a pampering, there’s no place better than Les Bains de la Gruyère, where pools are heated to 34 degrees. The pools are particularly beautiful in winter when steam rises from the water and the surrounding mountains glisten with snow.
The Jaun Pass connects the Gruyère region with the Simmental in the Bernese Oberland. In summer, the steep, weather-beaten slopes of the Gastlosen (1998m) attract many hikers and climbers to the area. Nearby Jaun, at the foot of an impressive waterfall, is close to the language border between French and German. Here it is worth visiting the old cemetery with its many wooden carvings, recalling the previous occupations of those who are buried there.
The idyllic landscape around Charmey is formed of ten valleys. Among the rivers, lakes, Alpine meadows and mountain peaks, hikers and mountain-bikers can find a host of signposted trails of varying levels of difficulty. There are plenty of attractions for families, too – including an adventure rope park, mini-golf and the Rapido Sky gondola. Panoramic cabins (each accommodating 8 people) bring you to the summit of Vounetz (1,650m), and glorious views of the Prealps.
The traditional world of the Alpine pastures twinned with the magic of the “Bains de la Gruyère” spa: wellbeing and relaxation in their purest form!