It’s really a shame that we lived in Switzerland for nearly a year before paying ever even dipping a toe in Lake Gruyere! We’d driven past it, around it, and over it countless times. Every time we passed it, we would say, “We should come back and spend a day at the lake.” It took the intense heat of a summer day to finally get us there. Digging out our swimsuits, we headed next door to round up friends and drove the few miles to go swimming at Lake Gruyere.
The lake is an absolute hidden gem, completely off the radar of tourists in an area not commonly explored in Switzerland. It’s the kind of place where locals take a picnic, the kids, and the family dog to spend a leisurely Sunday by the water. It might not be ideal for thrill seekers, but it’s pretty ideal for everyone else.
Lake Gruyere, which is also known as Lac Gruyère or Lac de la Gruyère, is a reservoir in the Fribourg region of western Switzerland.
The swimming area is near Chapelle de Thusy on the east side of the lake.
By car, it’s less than 30 minutes from the town of Fribourg or 45 minutes from Bern.
Click on map in upper right to enlarge
Travel Tip: FREE parking with direct lake access is available right in front of the Chapelle de Thusy (Thusy Chapel) on the east side of the lake.
The lake is the perfect place to beat the heat.
As soon as we could throw our stuff down in a semi flat place above the water line, we splashed in, relieved to finally get a reprieve from the unusually intense July heat wave that had extended into August.
It’s actually been so hot and dry this summer that the Swiss military created a minor international ruckus when they “stole” water from France for their parched cows.
Travel Tip: This swimming area is ideal for its calm waters and rocky/sandy shore. It doesn’t have a muddy bottom with lots of vegetation.
Even though our dog Touille is usually not a fan of swimming, she didn’t even hesitate to sploosh in after her ball.
She’ll do anything for her ball.
Of course, every little rat terrier has her limit.
After swimming out a bit too far for her ball, she snagged it and then took refuge on a submerged boulder, refusing to plunge back into deeper water to swim to shore.
Stranded on a submerged rock, Touille waits for rescue.
Taking pity on our poor little rat dog, I rescued her and gave her a free ride to shore.
When we were finally all blessedly chilly, we toweled off and climbed a rocky promontory.
Our friend Gintare, a strong believer that wine makes every occasion better (and who am I to argue?), uncorked a bottle of wine, and we shared a hastily thrown together picnic dinner.
A thin line of angry black clouds crept in from the south, eerily snaking across the lake and blotting out the sun.
Watching in awe at the speed with which the storm descended, we realized the curtain of rain that had quickly obscured the mountains would likely be upon us in minutes.
Suddenly, the wind hit us, needling our skin with fine sand picked up from the beach. Lightning, visible only as sheets of bright light, flashed inside the curtain of rain.
It was quite impressive!
It was also definitely time to go.
Racing across the rocky beach ahead of the rain, the four of us passed the beautiful old tree next to the Pont-la-Ville church. The tree was flattened against the chapel, branches bent sharply in the wind.
Travel Tip: The beach at Thusy Chapel is partially shaded, is a nice place for a picnic or BBQ, and offers public restrooms. For those who want to paddle out to Ogoz Island, the beach is an ideal put-in for small boats.
Laughing, we reached our car just as the first few fat raindrops hit us. Before we’d even reached the end of the winding road out of the village, the deluge enveloped our car.
Content with our memorable first visit to Lake Gruyere, we crept along the road in the pounding rain, already anticipating hot showers and giant mugs of piping hot coffee awaiting us at home.
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