Swiss chocolates are creamy, delicious and famous all over the world, in fact the best chocolate in the world. Switzerland is particularly renowned for its milk chocolate. Even though Switzerland has never produced cocoa beans or they don’t have cocoa producing colonies, still they are pioneer in milk chocolate manufacturing due to rich and creamy Alpine milk availability, innovations and entrepreneurship which transformed the chocolate industry forever. The first mass production of chocolate started in Switzerland by Maison Cailler chocolate factory.
How to go to Maison Cailler chocolate factory
Maison Cailler is situated in Broc, a village in the Canton of Fribourg. From anywhere you start your journey, either from Interlaken, Geneva or Zurich, the total time taken to reach the factory is two and half hour. Generally you need two or more connection to reach the location. You have to change the train at Bern and Bulle. From Bulle to Broc-Fabrique there is a meter gauge train which takes approximately 10 minutes. The last stop Broc-Fabrique is just in front of the Chocolate Factory.
If you are coming by your own car there is a parking lot 5-minute walking distance from the factory. The parking lot right across the factory is for employees only. The factory is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, last entry at 5 pm, from April to October and closes early at 4 pm from November to March.
Just before the left side of entrance there is ticket counter where you have to buy your ticket. They will ask you the preferred language you would like your tour to be in, so that you can be grouped with the same language group tour. Once you get the ticket with timed entry, you have to collect audio guide, shaped like a chocolate bar at the reception and wait for your turn. The group size is approx. 15-20 persons and tours are self-guided. We opted for the English language tour.
Next to reception there is a Cailler chocolate shop where you can buy all type of chocolates that this factory produce. ln the same hall there is a cafe where you can buy drinks, snacks & sandwiches. Toilet and locker facility also available there.
The tour was divided in three parts
- How chocolate was introduced to Europe and how Cailler was founded.
- Explaining the main ingredients as well as the process of making chocolate.
- Chocolate tasting where you get to taste different types of chocolate made at the Cailler factory.
The tour will take you on a multimedia journey through a number of rooms narrating the history of Chocolate, how it’s introduced in Europe and role of Switzerland in the Chocolate making. First tour starts with the brief introduction and story narration of The Aztec cocoa ceremonies. The multimedia presentation will take you to the dark forests of Mesoamerica where the Aztecs first tasted the chocolate way back in the 450 BC. Originally chocolate was served as a bitter and spicy drink. The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of the God of wisdom – Quetzalcoatl. The cocoa beans once had so much value that they were used as a form of currency. After the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, chocolate was imported to Europe. Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes introduced cocoa beans and the exotic chocolate drink to Spain.
Chocolate was then taken to France in 1615 when Anne, daughter of Phillip ll of Spain married King Louis Xlll of France, and soon French court adopted this new exotic drink. Within no time it arrived at every royal court in Europe.
The concluding part of narration talked about Frangois-Louis Cailler founding the chocolate factory in 1819, which was the first mechanised chocolate production facility in history, and how milk chocolate was invented here. How other Swiss inventor make milk powder, mass production of chocolate, why this site was selected for chocolate factory and about its merger with Nestle.
The tour ended into a room filled with raw materials and ingredients used for making chocolate. There were big boxes and bags filled with cocoa beans, almonds, hazelnuts, cocoa butter and sugar. You can touch, feel, smell and taste hazelnuts and cacao beans among others.
You continue on to a section that explains how to identify chocolate by sound, taste, smell and texture. From here you can actually walk past the real production plant, machines behind the glass walls manufacturing the Cailler chocolates and see the huge vats which contain the chocolate. Manufacturing area is not accessible for visitors.
At the point of the tour you get to see the really exciting stuff – a small machine form which chocolate is extruding, cut and wrapped in front of you. This chocolate is available for you to taste.
Then you go through to the final room which is best part of the tour, the tasting room, where you can eat unlimited amount of Cailler chocolate, yes unlimited! There’s around 10-15 different variety of chocolates on offer.
On your way out you pass the “chocolate atelier” where Cailler offers chocolate making classes. These classes are available in two age group, 6 to 12 years and other classes for 12 years and older. You have to reserve these session in advance as they fill up quickly. When we pass from there, children’s session was going on and they were enjoying the course. I really wish I knew this before coming here, my kids would have enjoyed a lot. There is a play area for the kids at the entrance of the factory building.
Bern is the seat of Switzerland’s government and is the de facto capital of Switzerland. The Old City is built on a narrow hill surrounded on three sides by the river Aare. Its compact layout has remained essentially unchanged since its construction during the twelfth to the fifteenth century. The Old City is home to Switzerland’s tallest cathedral as well as other churches, bridges and a large collection of Renaissance fountains. It is a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site since 1983.
We spent a few hours walking the covered arcade shopping area that was the main street through Bern and we were happy that we spend time there. There are still some very beautiful areas that we missed in Bern due to shortage of time.