So, I was basically a Swiss tourist cliche on this trip, because I managed to tick off cheese fondue and unlimited chocolate within a couple hours’ time. Travel efficiency FTW.
We spent the late morning in Gruyere (I’m always going to be a fan of places that cheese is named after) and then had a (duh) gooey cheese fondue lunch before driving just 15 minutes up the road to the Cailler chocolate factory.
As you’d expect, the scenery is totally gross…
Cailler was founded in the early 1800s in Vevey (on the shores of Lake Geneva), but didn’t become a major player in the chocolate industry until the early 1900s and merged with Nestle in the 1920s. It’s a Swiss institution.
(side note, aren’t those little light fixtures shaped like chocolates the CUTEST?!)
We bought our tickets and then had about 20 minutes to wait until our (English) tour time. Our visit was in late March, so the wait might be longer during peak tourist season. While we waited, I sat down and had a cappuccino (with chocolate, naturally) while my mom perused the gift shop. Then we queued up for the tour.
The tour is a little cheesy (think Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean), taking your through both the history of chocolate and then Cailler’s history. But it’s cute and not too long. Toward the end you get to see how their iconic branch chocolates are made in the factory and also tour and feel/smell/touch some of the raw ingredients. This is one tour where the audioguide really adds a lot of value, and I definitely recommend using it heavily (it’s free with the tour ticket).
And of course this is the highlight—you get to pretend to be a Cailler tester and taste like 6 or 7 different types of chocolates. The Swiss style of chocolate is definitely a little too rich and sweet for me and I was desperately wishing for some cold water during the tasting. Overall this wasn’t really my kind of chocolate, but the lemon and coffee flavors (the stripey and coffee bean ones) were my favorite. And I felt ill by the end due to sugar overload.
Pro tip: bring a bottle of cold water with you to cleanse your palate and cut the sweetness
We stopped for one more cappuccino and then headed back to Geneva. I couldn’t resist a shot with the scenery before we left…if it weren’t for that random dude back there, it would look like I was in front of a cliche fake Swiss background, right??
How to visit Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory
- I definitely recommend a visit if you’re in the Geneva area!
- It’s open almost 363 days a year, ticket sales 10a-4p or 5p depending on time of year. Check the website to be sure.
- Tickets are 12 CHF (a little over $12 USD), free for kids under 16 if they’re with an adult.
- The tour itself takes maybe 30-45 minutes, and all the chocolate you eat (all you CAN eat) is at the end.
- Bring a cold bottle of water (or buy one at the cafe) for the tasting.
What do you think your chocolate-eating threshold is? (mine is apparently like 5 pieces…)
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