In 1819, chocolatier François-Louis Cailler founded Switzerland’s oldest chocolate company, the Maison Cailler chocolate factory. While non-Swiss folks might not have heard of it, they’ve most certainly heard of the food giant, Nestlé, which is named after another Swiss founder, Henri Nestlé. In 1929, Nestlé purchased the Maison Cailler chocolate company, absorbing it into what is now one of the largest food corporations in the world.
But in the tiny town of Broc, Switzerland, the sign on top of this historic chocolate factory still says Cailler. Folks travel from all over the world to learn about its history and enjoy the all-you-can-eat sugar and cocoa bonanza that awaits in the tasting room at the end of the tour.
I’m not gonna lie – we were there for the free chocolate samples.
Well, I shouldn’t speak for our two friends, Larisa and Romi, who accompanied us on a tour of the Cailler factory. But Travis and I were all about the samples.
What is so attractive about free stuff? Even when I don’t particularly want what’s being given, if it’s free, suddenly I have to have it.
So on a remarkably warm day in April, the four of us headed to the Maison Cailler Swiss chocolate factory.
Start at the Maison Cailler ticket office.
Since tickets are required for the Cailler chocolate tour, you’ll want to start your visit at the ticket office, which is right outside the main building entrance. Just look for the futuristic wooden dome out front. You can’t miss it.
You can also buy tickets online in advance if you’d like. If you see tickets for sale on different websites for either the “Maison Cailler chocolate museum” or the “Cailler chocolate factory tour,” they’re the same thing. The attraction offers one main guided tour.
For those who do want to buy tickets in advance, you can buy them online directly from the Maison Cailler website.
Travel Tip: The price of an adult ticket is 12 CHF at the time of this writing. Tickets for students, the disabled, and seniors cost 9 CHF. Youth under age 16 are free.
Stop by the gift shop. It’s really cool.
After buying our tickets in the dome, we entered the main building and were immediately met with a wall-to-wall array of shiny, colorful chocolate bars, tins, and tourist items along every wall.
There’s no shortage of Cailler chocolate in Switzerland, but if you’re thinking you’ll just try to find Cailler chocolate somewhere else cheaper, you’ll be hard pressed to find it. It’s currently only sold in Switzerland.
We took advantage of their buy-three-get-one-free deal to send some chocolate bars to friends and family back home.
We’re actually not really “gift shop people,” but the Cailler shop is neat. It has several carved chocolate exhibits that are just awesome, from a huge Swiss cow to a mound of white chocolate resembling the Swiss Alps with tiny skiers on it.
My favorite exhibit on display was a carving of an alpine ibex, standing nearly a meter tall in its case and made entirely of chocolate. Amazing!
It’s a good thing he was safely stashed away in his glass case or I would have nibbled off part of his horn.
Let the Maison Cailler factory tour begin!
When the guided tour started, we fell in with a group of folks, all holding audio guides up to our ears to listen in our respective languages.
For the next twenty minutes or so, we passed from room to room, each laid out in chronological order to illustrate the history of chocolate from its earliest pre-Mayan beginnings to its introduction in Europe in the 16th century and on to modern day production.
Travel Tip: The entire tour takes about 30 minutes.
Exiting the last room of the tour, we entered a large room with interactive displays.
Here you’ll find different wooden cases filled with cacao beans, different nuts, vanilla, and other ingredients used in making chocolate confections.
It was fun and interactive to be able to grab a handful of cacao beans to smell them and feel the oily chunks of cocoa butter.
The final section was a short walk along a conveyor belt where little log-shaped candies passed under a chocolate waterfall, were dried, and then were sealed in shiny, colorful wrappers.
An employee waiting at the end of the line sat boxing up the final product, setting aside a fair number for a basket of free samples near the machine.
As nifty as all this was, I was a bit disappointed.
Where was the Chocolate Room?
When were we going to see Oompa Loompas?
Did Maison Cailler really not have a Great Glass Elevator? Rivers of chocolate? Blueberries with children’s faces and limbs rolling along?
In fact, the actual chocolate production room is just a quiet, glassed-off room filled with industrial equipment, none of which was moving at all. At least the cocoa mixer was bright and colorful.
The tour ended on a good note though. I’m sure you can guess why.
The very last room is the tasting room…better known as the
FREE Samples’ Room!
Coincidentally, it was my favorite room and the one where we spent the most time.
Of course, just like with any good buffet, my dreams of how much free chocolate I could consume were not realistic. After 4 or 5 pieces, I was pretty much chocolated out.
We stuffed “just one more piece” in our mouths, and Travis smiled to show me his beautiful brown teeth.
That alone was worth the visit.
Insider Tip: Maison Cailler also offers chocolate workshops, outdoor games, and an escape room. Visit the official website for Maison Cailler for more info.
Where is Maison Cailler located?
The Maison Cailler chocolate factory address is Rue Jules Bellet 7, 1636 Broc, Switzerland.
Did you visit the chocolate factory in Switzerland?
If so, impress us with how many chocolates you ate!
Here are more cool things to do nearby in Gruyere.