There’s a saying that "Nine out of ten people like chocolate, and the tenth is lying." In Switzerland, land of chocolate, it couldn’t be more true. Every village or big city seems to have a chocolatier specializing in a unique take on the milky goodness. The Swiss invented milk chocolate, the world’s favorite sweet treat, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone traveling to the country, that it also tops the world in chocolate consumption.
Chocosuisse: Factories and Tours
In addition to supplying the country with chocolate, Swiss chocolate manufacturers provide much of that consumed elsewhere, and many of these companies provide tours of their factories, as well as provide tastings and sell merchandise on site.
A group of 18 chocolate manufacturers (and 2 associate members) in 1901 formed an association called Chocosuisse, which contains both large and small milk chocolate makers. These chocolate manufacturers include well known companies like Lindt, Kraft, and Nestle, as well as many that travelers may not be as familiar with, but are just as inviting.
Some of these chocolate makers welcome visitors on site, where they can learn the basics of how chocolate is made. Some of this information is also available online at its website (www.chocsuisse.ch). Those offering tours, tastings, and shopping include Cailler-Nestle, based in Broc, which is open from April through October; Maestrani in Flawil, which is open daily Monday to Saturday; and Alprose in Casiano, which is open daily.
Chocolate in Swiss Museums
With chocolate being so much a part of the Swiss psyche, it shouldn’t be surprising that chocolate making is also featured in at least two museums:
* Swiss Open-Air Museum
Located near Brienz, this museum works to keep the history of Swiss culture and food alive. From spring to fall, you can witness live demonstrations by butchers, bakers, cheese makers, and of course, those who specialize in chocolate making.
* Alimentarium Food Museum
This museum, run by the Nestle Foundation, is a glorious celebration of food, its history, origins, and effects on human life. The interactive museum’s permanent exhibit centers on food and its nutritional component. The Vevey museum is also famed for its beautiful location on the shores of Lake Geneva.
The Swiss Chocolate Train
For those who enjoy a different take on chocolate, there’s no better adventure than the Golden Pass Service’s Swiss Chocolate Train. Those riding the train will travel first class aboard a 19th century Belle Epoque Pullman car departing from Montreaux, which travels through the scenic mountain landscape of Switzerland. Along the way, visitors stop at a cheese factory, castle, and the Cailler-Nestle factory in Broc. The Swiss Chocolate Train operates June through October.
Learn How to Make Your Own
In Kaltbrunn, at the Confiserie Isler, travelers and chocolate lovers alike can learn chocolate making at this confectionary without needing any previous experience. At their chocolate-making workshop, visitors make and decorate their own chocolates. Along the way, there is plenty of tasting, and class ends with an aperitif.
Chocolate Shops Are Everywhere
Although the wide range and number of small chocolate shops that dot the Swiss landscape are too numerous to list, this small sampling should give an indication of the diversity and profusion of chocolate makers. Just about anywhere you travel in Switzerland, you are bound to be just steps away from a classic chocolate treat.
The Chocolate Spa
From the chocolate body mousse at the Grand Hotel Bad Ragaz to the chocolate bath at the Day Spa in Geneva, the chocolate here can be enjoyed without gaining a pound.
No matter how travelers enjoy their Swiss milk chocolate--aboard a train, at the corner shop, or in a day spa--this Swiss treat is one of the most memorable experiences the country has to offer travelers. No matter the location, there’s sure to be a shop, factory, or restaurant turning out yet another a new batch to enjoy.