Neatly located close by on Main Street, our establishments are complementary. They offer a large choice of typical meals from Gruyere, as well as from our neighbors France and Italy, addressing all taste buds.
Le Chalet de Gruyères
At the heart of the medieval town, the “Chalet de Gruyère” is the emblematic restaurant. Its authentic interior design features traditional woodwork, bells and ornamented cowbells, three legged stools (commonly called “ass kickers”, they were used to milk cows) and a typical wood tile roof. The atmosphere accurately captures the feel of the green pastures where the “armaillis” (local shepherds) take their herds every summer.
To this day, the famous alpine Gruyere (“Gruyère d’alpage”) is the soul of the Gruyere valley. Made with love from Mai to September with the milk of a single herd of cows, this exceptional cheese is the origin of the pastoral tradition that still goes on today.
In the 16th century, the commerce of gruyere cheese was so lucrative that the Earls of Gruyeres set out to clear the forest to create new pastures: the “alpages”. At alt. 800 to 1800m, the grassy prairies have an exceptionally diverse flora. It is this diversity that gives the alpine milk its unique character: alchemilla, hoary plantain, anthyllis, fragrant vernal, dandelion, brown clover are the active ingredients that feed the herds. No additives are allowed in the elaboration or the refinement of the alpine Gruyere.
The tradition remains as depicted in the Poyas – the wooden frescos hanging over the doors of the local farms that illustrate the herds walking up to the prairies in the spring. But the Golden age of the Gruyere cheese wouldn’t have happened without the French. In 1674, King Louis XIV signed a deal with the city of Fribourg: in exchange for Swiss soldiers, the Kingdom of France would provide the salt needed to make cheese and would authorize the trade of the cheese on its territory. It quickly became known as the Gruyere route. Brought down from the Alps to Montreux on the back of mules, the cheese was sent by boat on Lake Geneva all the way to Geneva and along the Rhone river to Lyon, cornerstone of the Fribourg economy.
In the eighteenth century, the French army was the best Gruyere cheese client. The French Navy was particularly fond of the cheese because it was nutritious enough to fight the terrible scurvy and it could be preserved as long as two years in the lower decks of ships.
The Golden Age has long passed, but more than thirty alpine chalets remain and the Gruyere cheese continues to be produced following yesterday’s tradition.
Today, other investors eye the region with interest. As per the French company Ladurée who, in 2010, set its production plant of macarons in the neighboring town of Enney. Out of the local raw material such as milk, cream, butter and eggs, fifty employees make over twenty million of colorful macarons each year and ship them all over the world.
Chalet de Gruyère Menu
Guests can choose from a rich selection of local products cooked according to the typical Gruyere recipes.