Return to Gruyères

IMG_0843One nice thing about living in a country with four distinct seasons is that you can visit someplace in one season, and then return in another for a different kind of enjoyment. I had been to Gruyères in February, but neither H nor the kids had seen it, and the Two Small Potatoes recommended a visit.

You can see my winter photos here, and compare them to these green and luscious views.

This time around I did not choose to visit the castle, but we did go into the H. R. Giger Bar. Giger was a Swiss surrealist artist known for his art design in the movie Alien. Though he grew up in Chur in Graubünden, Giger lived much of his adult life in Zürich.

In the bar we sampled some hot chocolate and coffee along with the meringues that the town is known for. Here one does not simply eat the confection, but dunks it in a dollop of Gruyères double cream, as a sort of soft frosting.

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Across from the bar is the Giger Museum in the Saint-Germain Castle which Giger purchased and is the repository of his work. The bar was plenty of Giger art for us, so none in our group went into the museum.

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Cranes of Gruyères

Legend has it that the town of Gruyères was founded by the knight Gruérius. He saw a crane flying by, took it as an omen. Or maybe he captured one. It depends on what you read. Crane is grue in French. Here is a conglomeration of some of the cranes I saw in the town and in the castle.

Château de Gruyères

One of Lynn’s requests was to see a castle. She didn’t think she’d ever been to a real one, and since Switzerland is chock full of castles, I thought this would be an easy feat. Think again. In the winter, many castles here are closed. After much internet research, and at the last minute, we decided to head to Château de Gruyères in the Canton of Fribourg. We had one more of the Tageskarten to go anywhere in the country for two people in one day. Now was the time to use it. It takes about 2.5 hours to get to this tiny, tiny town. First a train, then a bus, then a 7-minute train. You step off the last train (which comes through the town once an hour – in either direction) and look up the hill to the medieval town which is still contained within its original walls. The walk up the hill takes about 10 minutes. IMG_8603

You walk through the town entrance in grand style.

IMG_8606Pass through another gate into the main town square.

IMG_8608 IMG_8610 The town seems to exist purely for tourism with many little shops, and plenty of restaurants. Even on this cloudy winter day there were a number of people milling about with cameras. We passed by the outside of the HR Giger Museum. The reviews I read suggested that I may not particularly enjoy it (even if many others did), so we skipped right on by and headed to the castle. IMG_8620 IMG_8621 Lynn was particularly happy to visit the castle which reminded me in some ways of Château de Chillon, and in some ways is quite different. Here is the main courtyard. IMG_8639 Many of the walls still maintain their original artwork (although it may be restored, I don’t know). IMG_8640

Some of the rooms are decorated in the 19th C. style.

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Several of the rooms had some beautiful tapestries.

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Some of the rooms had some modern art, some of it quite strange.

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I am sure that the gardens are quite lovely in the summer. They are still fun to look at in the snow, too.

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More odd art.

IMG_8659 This room had various murals, each one telling a story throughout the castle’s history. IMG_8666

Although these sundials are now under a roof, they were once able to help tell the time on sunny days.

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The little chapel outside.

IMG_8684 If you know your cheese, you know about Gruyère, and tomorrow’s post will be about fondue at the mother ship.