Maison Cailler is the name of the Swiss chocolate factory in Broc, a small village near the famous Gruyères. In just a few years it has become one of the most visited places in Switzerland, so you should book a day or two in advance if you don’t want to wait in line for two hours like in August.
History of Cailler
Cailler is an institution in Switzerland and more since it joined Nestlé, a chocolate industry empire, pioneers in the production of the famous milk chocolate.
Its founder was François-Louis Cailler, who founded the company between 1818 and 1820, and today it is the oldest chocolate brand in the world.
After he had bought several factories and led the company to success, his son-in-law Daniel Peter took up the business again and invented milk chocolate in 1875. The success continued and fifteen years later, in 1890, the company invented chocolates.
In 1898, Cailler’s grandson Alexandre opened today’s chocolate factory in Broc in the heart of Switzerland, a deeply fertile region with pasture land.
The great crisis of the 29th also shakes Cailler to its foundations and prompts him to join Nestlé, the major Swiss food giant.
Thanks to the reputation of Cailler and its location in one of the most beautiful regions of Switzerland, the Maison Cailler was opened in 2010, a place where you can discover the history of chocolate and of Cailler, as well as the production processes of this precious food.
What to see at Maison Cailler
Here are some of the things you can do or see in this fantastic museum dedicated to chocolate. We insist you book in advance. In July and August the queues are endless and it doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or rainy, it’s always full.
A journey through the history of chocolate and Cailler
The visit to the Maison Cailler begins with a walk through the history of chocolate. You take part in small groups of 10-12 people. During this pleasant walk, monitors announce your number and the time of entry. An elevator takes you down to a room where people talk about the origin of chocolate at the time of the Aztec human sacrifices.
Don’t expect super special effects or virtual reality, but it is a charming atmosphere that fits the spirit of the brand and the factory.
You will go through different rooms that explain the origin of chocolate, its development and its history in Europe, from its introduction to its relationship with Cailler.
The tour lasts roughly 20 minutes. You will be guided without a guide since the doors open and close to allow you entering into the different rooms.
Visit to the production process of Cailler chocolate
After the historical tour, the visit starts. The first large room shows us some bars with different actors in the chocolate making process, from workers from exotic countries involved in the production of chocolate to those who make it in the Broc factory.
With a simple audio guide, you can find out the functions of each one, while we participate with all our senses in the ingredients contained in Cailler’s chocolates.
After this first big stay, you can discover some of the secrets of making milk chocolate, but not all! The truth is that it is very interesting and entertaining.
For example, you will see machines that show you how the famous branches are created and other production processes.
A warning to all those with a sweet tooth: What follows can alter the heartbeat of more than one person. One of the highlights of the visit is the chocolate tasting. It all starts at a small stand where an employee will give you a taste of the stores, one of the stars of the company and one of its oldest products.
But we warn you not to get puffed up at this first tasting because you will then pass through a corridor where Maison Cailler proposes a sensory experience with the well-known Neapolitan ones. You can taste the ones you want, but we insist, leave space in your stomach if you do not want to allow yourself a binge.
Towards the end of the tour there is a chocolate room, where a member of the museum staff invites visitors to try different pralines and chocolate varieties. This is already pure chocolate pleasure. Remember that it is forbidden to take them out of the rooms, so only take what you can taste there.
Now that master chef cooking programmes are in vogue, why not emulate the great chocolate masters and make your own creations?
The Cailler Chocolate Museum offers lessons for groups of fifteen children aged 6 to 12. These lessons last one hour and cost CHF 25. Of course you must book them in advance.
If you are no longer a child and are enthusiastic about the world of chocolate, there are also workshops for adults that last two and a half hours. The price is CHF 75 and includes a visit to the Maison Cailler.
This is a real warning for museum visitors. The store is spectacular, well stocked and everything comes in through the eyes. If you’re a sweet lover or one of those who love sweets, or are one of those who likes metal boxes or fragile packaging, be sure to have your wallet ready, because you’ll be leaving here with a few bags.
The chocolate train
Those of you who do not have a car and are in the Lake Geneva area can visit the Maison Cailler thanks to the chocolate train. It runs from Montreux to the Gruyère region. Here you can spend an unforgettable day and visit the chocolate factory, but also the Maison du Gruyère where the famous cheese is made.
They will also give you free time to visit Gruyères and its fantastic castle. The train offers coffee and croissants and all transfers by bus to visit the factories.
The prices are 99 CHF for adults and 49 CHF for children, provided they have a Junior Card.