So far we’ve been to Switzerland in spring and fall, but only briefly in winter and summer. Of course, once you’ve sprung for the year-long vignette, it seems we look for reasons to go to Swiss. I feel like I need to justify that 33 euro driving fee. When we drove to Corsica last summer, we could have driven down through Austria and Italy, or taken a further route to the west through France, but since both of those have their own road tolls, and we already had the Swiss vignette, it was a no brainer. But other times, I find myself thinking of a weekend visit to that expensive country just to use that pretty sticker sitting unobtrusively in the center of my windshield, just under the rear view mirror.
This last visit to Switzerland, we found ourselves staying in the Fribourg Canton, near the beautiful medieval village of Gruyères. The town has a colorful history and an equally colorful present. On the day we visited, the cobbled streets were covered with tourist from around the world. But we also found a lively collection of military bands and equestrian groups that had come out to provide their own unique fanfare to a glorious spring day. We managed to find some decent photographs, despite the crowds of fellow tourists, and enjoyed a delicious snack of fresh raspberries and Gruyères’ famous double cream. Just up the hill towards the chateau, we found a small paparazzi throng in front of the Giger museum.
Even if you don’t know who Giger is, you might recognize some of his work. He was the artist behind the supernaturally evil beings from the Alien movies series. It must have been Open House day in Switzerland that Saturday, as we had found a number of business open for exploration at no cost. The Giger museum was no exception, so I found myself wandering through the bizarrely surreal exhibits in a mixture of fascination, awe, and revulsion. There was some very uniquely dark art to be found there. We never did discover who the paparazzi was aimed at, I guess that just added to the mystery of the museum for me.
We had the most fun, however, driving leisurely through the stunning alpine scenery along quiet backroads. Of course, everyone knows this is one of our favorite pastimes. For good reason, we have stumbled on some truly memorable events and people that have stayed with us far longer than the memory of some raspberries and cream. We’ve had conversations with farmers in their field that develop into coming in for tea and on into lasting relationships. We found the Swiss people to be friendly and welcoming, willing to share their stories and more with a stranger from a chance meeting.
For a good taste of Gruyères while visiting the town, try the Chalet de Gruyères just down the hill from the Chateau:
Restaurant le Chalet de Gruyères
Rue du Bourg 53 | CH-1663 Gruyères
T +”‰41 26 921 21 54
If you are feeling adventurous or are drawn to the bizarre, visit the HR Giger Museum:
MUSEUM HR GIGER
Château St. Germain
Tel.: +41 26 921 22 00