Day 3 saw us with an extra early start. We had a 2 ½ hour drive to the dial factory, Cadrans Flückiger at St Imier in the Canton of Jura. Under grey skies and a light shower we boarded our bus and headed out of Geneva along the lake. Once we were out of the city we drove through beautiful green countryside with the occasional rainbow.
Cadrans Flückiger S.A. is a subsidiary company of Patek Philippe. They specialize in the manufacture and finishing of dials. Not only do they make dials for Patek Philippe, they also do dials for companies such as Audemars Piguet and IWC, among others. It was fascinating to learn that a dial can have anywhere from 40 to 70 processes applied to it and can take up to 3 months to make.
Dial enamelling and guilloché engraving are also carried out at Cadrans Flückiger and we were fortunate to be able to see the artisans working at both techniques. Enameling is very pretty but the amount of work involved explains why the pricing can be quite a bit more for an enamel dial watch. The engraving studio also had several guilloché machines dating back to the 1800’s still being used.
Lunch was at the Hotel Beau Rivage Neuchatel,a hotel we stayed at several years ago. Not associated with the Beau Rivage Geneva, this stately hotel is also situated by a lake, Lake Neuchatel to be precise. It was nice to return even if for a little while.
Memories of our dinner on our last visit had us anticipating the wonderful lunch that awaited us.
The wild mushrooms in puff pastry were very tasty and the freshness of the mushrooms was evident in the level of flavor.
Main course was a simple prepared chicken supreme, with vegetables and a chorizo cream sauce. The sauce had a nice spiciness to it.
Dessert was an apple tart tatin, beautifully presented and very delicious!
After lunch we had time for a quick walk outside.
After our fantastic lunch it was back on to the bus. Our next destination was a visit to the chocolate factory of Maison Cailler, located in the town of Broc, situated in the mountains of the La Gruyere region. Now part of the Nestle Group, Maison Cailler was founded in the early 1800’s by Francois-Lois Cailler. Over the next 100 or so years the manufacturing of chocolate was perfected with the ultimate secret to creaminess being the use of condensed milk made with the high quality milk from the cows of the region.
We took part in a tour of the factory which started with a series of rooms, each depicting a different period in the history of chocolate. From the Aztecs to the Conquisatadors, the arrival of chocolate in Europe, right up to the founding of Maison Cailler and the 20th century. Very interesting and well presented.
After the history rooms you start in to the factory proper. Glass walls separate the factory from the tour area where displays and samples of ingredients are arranged. An audio device is given to each tour member at the start and when held to an icon at each display, you learn more about the ingredients and where they are from. There is also information on the farmers/growers and their locations in the world.
And of course you can’t finish a chocolate factory tour without trying some freshly made chocolate. There were around a dozen samples to taste. Thankfully I only tried 4 which was quite sufficient.
We also had time for a bit of chocolate retail therapy.
This ends part 1 of Day 3 part two will see us head to the historic for town of Gruyeres for dinner.