Have you ever watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in your childhood and wished you could go on a trip to such a magical place yourself? This dream might still come true. There is hardly a more fitting place to delve into the world of chocolate than at the oldest chocolate manufacturer in Switzerland, La Maison Cailler Chocolaterie. The exhibition shows visitors the origin of chocolate and takes them from the realm of the Aztecs in Mexico, who drank chocolate before a battle, aboard a ship that brought the first cocoa beans to Europe to the court of Emperor Charles V, who was one of the first Europeans who had the pleasure to taste the brown sweet. Eventually, chocolate made its way to Switzerland and today, it’s the country’s most successful export product and more chocolate is eaten per capita than anywhere else in the world.
You can learn about old recipes, that the milk comes from the farmers in the region and that the cocoa beans are imported in huge sacks from Ghana and Venezuela. And of course, you can watch the different stages in the production process. A more hands-on approach is possible at the “Atelier du Chocolat” where at more than a dozen work stations, visitors mix, melt and decorate chocolate with anything from almonds to ginger and gold dust. When the mouth-watering journey is over, you can follow the aroma of freshly made chocolate to the adjoining degustation area and store, where a massive selection of chocolate products awaits to seduce your taste buds with delicious flavors.
La Maison Cailler Chocolaterie is located in the small town of Broc near Gruyères in western Switzerland. The train ride from Geneva takes roughly two hours and requires a change of trains in Romont and Bulle. The chocolate factory opens from 10am to 6pm between the months of April and October and from 10am to 5pm in the winter months. The “Atelier du Chocolat” requires a registration in advance.