La Maison du Gruyère Fromagerie de Demonstration is a cheese making dairy factory open to visitors near the popular wall-enclosed old town and Gruyères castle in Switzerland.
Gruyère is one of the world’s best-known cheeses and named after the Gruyères region in the Swiss canton Fribourg. At its heart is the small, wall-enclosed hilltop town Gruyères, a tourist magnet with its medieval look and historic castle. Day-trippers stream here from all over Switzerland and La Maison du Gruyère provides an opportunity to see how the cheese is being produced. Gruyères is a popular day-trip destination from the Lake Geneva region and Bern.
La Maison du Gruyère Cheese-Making Dairy Factory in Switzerland
The House of Gruyère is a modern cheese-making factory located right in front of Gruyères train station in Pringy-Gruyères a few minutes’ walk from the wall-enclosed old town. Ample parking, also for tour buses, is available.
Modern cheese making is a rather sterile, industrial process and this is no different for an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) cheese such as Gruyère. Visitors may observe the cheese making process through large windows and although the characteristic smell of Gruyères cheese hangs over the entire complex, visitors do not get close to the products.
La Maison du Gruyère Show Cheese-Making Factory Tour
Visitors to the cheese making facilities receive an audio guide, available in multiple languages, and then can follow a bit of history of Gruyères as well as explanations on the production of milk and eventually cheese. Special cylinders allow visitors to smell the different plants that influence the taste of milk.
Following these explanations, visitors look down through large windows into the actual cheese making production plant. Depending on the time of day, not much may actually be happening at the given moment.
Videos show what should happen in every stage of production while more panels explain some facts about Gruyère cheese, e.g. 400 l of milk is required for each 35 kg Gruyères cheese round, or a more manageable 12 liter of milk per kilogram Gruyère cheese.
When little is happening in the cheese factory, the most impressive part of the visit is probably the maturing cellars where up to 7,000 rounds of Gruyère cheese are stored. However, these cellars can be seen for free without having to enter the factory tour itself.
Visiting La Maison du Gruyère Show Cheese-Making Factory
The show cheese dairy factory of La Maison du Gruyère is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm (7 pm from June to September). Cheese making takes place daily from 9 am to 11 am and 12:30 to 4:30 pm.
The dairy factory is even open on Christmas Day but with shorter opening hours (10-4) from December 24 to 31, 2011.
Admission is a rather hefty CHF7 (CHF14.50 for a combination ticket with Château de Gruyères), free under 12, and CHF12 for families. All visitors receive a sampler of three Gruyères cheeses to compare the taste of cheese of three different maturities. The young less than 5 months old Gruyère is mild (doux) in taste while the more mature cheeses have a saltier taste and more coarse texture.
The on premises restaurant has a large menu (with a lot of cheese dishes) but service can be slow at busy times. Children will enjoy the play area outside the restaurant where picnic facilities are also available. The oversized souvenir shop at the entrance to the factory hints at the popularity of the dairy with tour bus companies.
If receiving free admission, e.g. with the Swiss Museum Pass, it is certainly worth visiting the cheese factory. However, the regular admission fee is rather high for what is on show – other cheese-making dairies in Switzerland charge significantly less.