We embarked on a tour connected to the Grand Tour of Switzerland and tempt you to join us as we take you through a journey of
Cheese: Château-d’Oex and Le Chalet cheese-making demonstration
Chocolate: Broc and the famous Cailler Factory, a full-on immersion
Charm: Les Rochers-de-Naye, high above glittering Montreux on Lake Geneva
Travel on the Goldenpass Railway
Since this leg of the Grand Tour offers its share of majestic views, there’s an idyllic feeling associated with the Goldenpass rail route— and, we’re searching for treasure, after all!
The rail network connects Zweisimmen with Gstaad, Chateau-d’Oex and Montreux. The magnificent views between the Bernese Oberland and Lake Geneva are certainly picturesque, and riding on the Goldenpass line creates a certain transportive experience all of its own!
Zuri Girl Tip: There are Panoramic and Classic trains on the Goldenpass Line. We opted for the Classic, created in the spirit of the Orient Express. Incredible, it was as if we time-traveled to the Belle Epoque, riding in perfect style that definitely amplifies the romance. If you choose this route, don’t forget to have your own cameo-style portrait taken through the frosted glass!
When the train stopped at Chateau-d’Oex, we immediately noticed the pure, clean alpine air filling our lungs. The town is nestled high up in the mountains, in the Pays-d’Enhaut region, and it seems to us that the historic village carries its own serene, peaceful quality. It’s surrounded by skiing, sledging, hiking trails and valley vistas, and there are several organic farms producing natural health specialties, including honey, syrups, skincare and other alpine herbal products.
We ducked into “Le Chalet” at lunchtime, and managed to catch owner Marcel Leroy busily making cheese in the traditional alpine fashion, right over the wood fire. Crafting quality cheese is not an easy task— Marcel invited us to try our hand at stirring, sifting, and eventually sampling a bit (we shared with others, too)!
We enjoyed the fresh, delicious organic cheese, and prefer the flavor of it after the 5-6 month ripening process is complete.
Zuri Girl Tip: Le Chalet lets you see traditional cheesemaking right in their restaurant from Wednesday to Sunday between 10:30-12:30.
“La Maison Cailler” chocolaterie isn’t far away— just a few minutes from Chateau-d’Oex, changing lines in Montbovon, and we found ourselves in Broc, where the breeze carries scents of cocoa, straight from the chocolate factory.
Visiting the famous chocolate museum is quite the popular treat—with over one million visitors, it’s the most visited museum in west Switzerland. There’s much to explore: a multimedia tour through history, view of the factory chocolate-making process, tasting experience, and more.
Our favorite part was a guided explanation of how to appreciate each aspect of chocolate, appreciating first the look and feel, then the aroma, and the sound of the “bite” into chocolate (apparently, it should have a smooth, solid “snap” noise). Last, we savored the feel and taste of the chocolate melting in the mouth… it’s certainly a connoisseur’s delight, and the refinement of enjoying the full flavor was a delight.
Zuri Girl Tip: With a cinema, atelier du chocolate, cafe, boutique, and park, there’s ample entertainment for all. Plan a good two hours for the museum, as there might be a wait for the interactive tour—you can buy a ticket upon entering the museum, and you’ll be assigned a tour time at that point, so you don’t have to physically wait in a line!
The Goldenpass line ends at Montreux, a gorgeous arts-and-culture mecca right in the heart of the Riviera. You don’t have to wait for the internationally famous Jazz Festival to enjoy the area’s offerings: lake cruises, relaxation spas, trails, vineyards, and castles… with great clubs, music and cuisine, the Lavaux region has it all!
We spent the evening lakeside, taking in the views and charm of the city, with an ample mix of art deco and art nouveau influences. The view from the balcony of the Eurotel Montreux was exquisite, to say the least!
The following morning, an energetic run along the shores of Lake Geneva to historic Château de Chillon (inspiration for Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Lord Byron, Delacroix and Courbet, among others!) was the ideal way to start the day. The château is open to the public as a museum, but short on time, we jumped on the cog railway up to Rochers-de-Naye, perched at 2042m.
Zuri Girl Tip: The Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic was sold out during our visit, but we hear it is THE Place to stay in Montreux. You’ll be torn between relaxing in your elegant suite to toasting champagne at the lakeside terrace bar.
We went up to Rochers-de-Naye with two expectations: gazing out at the panoramic vista, and glimpsing marmots in the parc arena. We were met with a grand surprise: complete whiteout cloud cover! While neither mountains nor marmots were in sight, due to the weather, the snowfall created a charming scene, and we were able to have a delicious fondue luncheon in the panorama restaurant right at the summit.
Zuri Girl Tip: Alpine adventurers have the option to book an overnight in a Mongolian yurt. Fully-insulated and heated, with authentic furnishings, the yurts offer year-round summit accommodations.
Article & Photos by Zuri Girl Caitlin, a mindfulness consultant, writer, speaker, photographer, educator, and leadership coach. Curiosity-driven, she investigates research in neuroscience, technology, and AR to promote compassionate, empathetic experiences on a global scale. She founded the organization MindWise, which focuses on fostering best mindsets in business and education leadership, applying mindfulness to the modern age. Find her on Twitter @MindWise_CK
Article experience was supported by Switzerland Tourism. The site www.MySwitzerland.com provides excellent resources and vacation inspirations.
Photos courtesy of Caitlin Krause and mentioned partners. Copyrights to Golden Pass Trains.