The chocolate factory of Cailler in Broc near Gruyères in Fribourg is a pleasant day trip from Lake Geneva that combines well with visiting the old town and Château de Gruyères.
La Maison Cailler welcomes visitors to one of Switzerland’s oldest and most important chocolate factories. During the factory tour, visitors learn how chocolate came to Europe and how the Swiss refined the product. A small-scale, but still surprisingly large, chocolate production line can be seen in action while sampling is largely unsupervised. Chocolate workshops, also for children, may be reserved. A large Cailler shop sells the locally produced chocolate while a small café serves marvelous hot chocolate and small snacks. A nearby Nestlé Factory Outlet Shop has bargains on chocolates and foods produced by various companies in the Nestlé Group. The Cailler chocolate factory is family-friendly and children enter free with adults. Guided tours are also available from several Lake Geneva cities.
La Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory in Broc, Switzerland
Cailler of Switzerland is one of the largest Swiss chocolate manufacturers and claims to be the oldest brand in the chocolate business. Cailler has been producing chocolate since 1819 (in Vevey) and since 1898 in Broc.
Cailler was the first manufacturer of chocolate slabs in the world. Cailler has been part of the Nestlé group since 1929 but still operates largely independently.
Broc and the chocolate factory area are clearly part of a modern industry. The main factory building shows industrial architectural lines from the early nineteenth century but has been sympathetically enlarged in more modern times. Railway lines ensure an environmentally friendly way to transport raw materials to the factory and chocolate to the market. Milk is mostly sourced locally.
Touring the Cailler Chocolate Factory near Gruyères, Switzerland
A visit to the Cailler chocolate factory starts with a 20-minute multimedia animation show available in French, English, German, Spanish, and Chinese. (New groups depart every 4 minutes.) During the animation show, visitors learn the history of chocolate including its origins in Mexico, introduction to Europe by the Spanish conquistadores, acceptance by the pope as a wholesome drink, entry into the boudoirs of France (trust the French to take chocolate not only into the bedroom but actually consuming it in bed), and the refinement of chocolate by the Swiss during the nineteenth century. Doors open and lights switch on automatically to guide visitors along at a set pace.
After the animation show, visitors are free to explore the rest of the factory open to visitors at leisure. Audio-guides explain the various aspects of growing cocoa and the production of chocolate.
A fully automated chocolate production line can be seen in action producing Mini Branches, one of Cailler’s most popular brands. Sampling is allowed at the end of the line – don’t overdo it here, the best stuff is served at the end of the tour.
Visitors can glance through windows into the main factory floor before ending the tour with a degustation (tasting). Once again, the better chocolates and pralines are served nearer to the end. Sampling is largely unsupervised and Cailler is not stingy with its wares.
A cinema shows chocolate-related movies while a café has drinks and small snacks. It is possible to attend chocolate producing and cooking sessions in the Chocolate Studio (Atelier du Chocolat) but advance reservations are essential. Programs are also available for children, including birthday parties.
Chocolate Factory Outlet Shops for Cailler and Nestlé Products
The factory store has a large selection of Callier chocolates on sale, including famous brands such as Fémina, Ambassador, Frigor, and endless slabs of chocolate in various sizes and flavors. Prices here are near supermarket prices.
For true bargains head uphill to a small Nestlé Factory Outlet Shop that sells at vastly reduced prices chocolates and various other food products produced by companies in the Nestlé group. Unfortunately for non-locals, some of the best deals are often on frozen products! This store is right next to the train station about a block uphill from the chocolate factory main entrance. (Competitor Lindt recently opened a large chocolate factory outlet store in Aubonne Outlet Mall, while Nestlé has further shops in the region in amongst others Morges and Lausanne Crisier.)
Visiting the Cailler Chocolate Factory near Gruyères, Switzerland
La Maison Cailler is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm (closing at 6 pm from April to October). Last admission to the tour is an hour before closing time. The chocolaitière is open year-round and only closes on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Admission to the chocolate factory is CHF12 for adults. Children under 16 enter free but must be accompanied by a paying adult. Students, seniors, and groups of at least ten pay CHF9 per person and school groups CHF3 per child. The Swiss Museum Pass is accepted. Facilities are family-friendly and fully accessible to wheelchair users.
Transportation to Cailler Chocolate Factory in Switzerland
La Maison Callier Chocolaterie is in the small town Broc near Gruyères and Bulle in canton Fribourg in western Switzerland. Getting to the chocolate factory is easiest by car – use the Autobahn highway A9 (Bern via Fribourg to Vevey on Lake Geneva) and exit at Bulle. Driving times are around 30 minutes from Fribourg or Montreux, 45 minutes from Bern or Lausanne, and 90 minutes from Geneva Airport.
The chocolate factory can also be reached on the regional train from Bulle. Trains arrive at least hourly – use the destination Broc Fabrique at the Swiss Railways timetable. Guided tours are also available from several Lake Geneva cities.
A very pleasant alternative is a day excursion on the Chocolate Train from Montreux. This Golden Pass train day trip includes first-class travel from Montreux to Gruyères, coffee and croissant on the train, a visit to a cheese factory, a visit to the Chateau de Gruyères, bus transfers, a visit to Cailler chocolate factory, and a Golden Pass train return to Montreux. The Chocolate Train operates from May to October on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and daily in July and August. Reservations are essential and connecting tours may be booked from amongst others Geneva or Lausanne.
A visit to the Cailler chocolate factory in Broc combines very well with a visit to the historic, wall-enclosed old town of Gruyères (Castle, HR Giger Museum, Tibet Museum) and Les Bains de la Gruyère hot water springs day spa.