The medieval town of Gruyères and its 13th century castle are often on the tourist map when exploring around Lake Geneva …. And rightfully so! The small village, completely surrounded by sublime alps and perfect green pastures is well worth the detour. But what people often overlook is what the rest of the region, the nearby Saanenland and the Pays d’en Haut have to offer, which is, believe it or not, even more worthwhile and genuine! Whether you’re a couple or a family, here are our five reasons why you should tag on a few days just in this area next time you’re in Switzerland:
1 – Hiking Heaven
Some of Switzerland’s most scenic hikes for all levels are hidden here, and unlike its more famous alpine siblings, you’ll almost find only locals along the way… Our favorite circuit is none other than Switzerland’s version of the Dolomites: the stunningly varied 11km Gastlosen trail.
2 – Pristine Nature
We’re lucky to say that for the most part, Switzerland is preserved from mass tourism, with exception of a few places like Interlaken and the city of Luzern, but untouched landscapes are still a rare breed in the world today. But because the sister regions of “Les Pays d’en Haut, Gruyères and the Simmental” are some of our country’s best kept secrets, they boast idyllic, untouched landscapes that make you feel like you’ve taken a time machine hundreds of years back. Our guilty pleasure? Just driving around and enjoying the views… it doesn’t have to be much more complicated than that!
3 – Meet a Scherrenschnitte Artist
Switzerland’s array of culture and tradition goes way further than just banks and chocolate. One of its most beautiful know-hows is the meticulous art of paper cutting called “scherrenschnitte” which originates from this region. Not only are the master pieces and the stories they tell absolutely beautiful, but what makes this tradition even more captivating is the passion and the amount of hours that goes behind each and every piece. We love to bring our travelers on a backstage tour to meet one of our favorite artists and to connect them to the heart of this rare form of art.
4 – The Secret Ingredient is Always Cheese
One of the reasons Gruyères is on the tourist map is because it is where Switzerland’s most famous type of cheese is made: the Gruyères. Our suggestion to add the cherry on your trip? Skip the queues to the museum and let us take you to meet the cheese-makers themselves in their remote alpine hut. It’s one of the most humbling and captivating experiences we have been lucky enough to experience; to see these genuine farmers in their everyday work life (starting everyday at 4am, 7 days a week!), making cheese using traditional methods,. If there is one local encounter to have on your trip, this is the one that should not be missed!
5- Quintessentially Switzerland
There is no shortage of typical villages in this part of Switzerland, complete with the traditional chalets and superb scenery all around. But if you’re looking to escape the crowds and see a more authentic side of the country, we suggest that you head to the small village of Saanen which is often overshadowed by its more famous glitz-and-glamour big sister, Gstaad. A true gem that is so discreet that we only discovered it recently ourselves, it is the perfect place to stop for a coffee or a hearty Swiss meal.
To start planning your custom journey through Switzerland, contact Chantal & Max, your Swiss travel specialists, at email@example.com.