Château d'En Bas. Foto/Photo: TES

Charmey, Cerniat and Broc, small villages with a great past and present

Have you heard of Cerniat? Yet this village in the municipality of Val-de-Charmey (canton of Freiburg) is the seat of Switzerland’s only Chartreuse.

The Chartreuse de la Valsainte (le val de tous les saints) was founded in 1924 by Girard de Corbières, Seigneur of the Corbières. Freiburg acquired the Seigneurie in 1553. Apart from the chapel, the Chartreuse is not open to the public and is still functioning.

Photo: Les moines Chartreux ©: Monastère de la Grande Chartreuse

The village’s name also has a long history. Cerniat is derived from the word ‘cierne’ in patois, which means meadow. Its origins go back to the Latin word circinus, ‘cerné’ in French.

The village lies in the present-day Gruyère district of the canton, and the Counts of Gruyère played an important role in this region until their bankruptcy in 1553.

Cerniat and nearby Charmey merged in 2014 to form the commune of Val-de-Charmey. The Seigneurs of the Corbières also governed Charmey until 1454, when the Counts of Gruyère acquired the village. From 1555, Charmey was part of Canton Freiburg.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Charmey was an important trading centre on the road to Lyon. Its main assets were the famous Gruyère cheese and the unique cellars for maturing cheese (les caves à fromages de la Tzintre). The grand mansions still recall the tiny village’s two ‘Golden Ages’.

Today, the village is known, among other things, for its bathhouse complex, hotel facilities, beautiful nature, and opportunities for winter and summer tourism. It also houses an interesting museum.

Musée Charmey

Broc is also a village that should be better known outside Switzerland. However, the entrance to the town already has a long history. The centuries-old castle (Château) d’En Bas (12th century) is the gateway to the village.

The barons of Montsalvens occupied the castle from 1340 to 1555. In that year, Freiburg also acquired this baronnie en Broc. The current stone bridge dates from 1580 and replaced the much older wooden bridge. The castle was rebuilt several more times in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The main religious attraction is the Chapel de Notre-Dame des Marches  (18th century), located less than a kilometre from the village at the foot of the Dent de Broc.

Production- and office facilities and Maison Caillier

However, Broc has plenty of sweet things, namely the Cailler chocolate factory. These chocolate artists are one of the oldest chocolate brands in the world. The Maison Cailler gives an interactive and tangible form to the arrival of cocoa beans to Europe and the rise of Swiss chocolate manufacturers, particularly Cailler. One can smell, taste and touch the chocolate.

Art in Maison Cailler 

The Electrobroc Information and Information Centre is of a different order. This institution uses documentation, films, and equipment. Models and other visualisations show the fascinating world of electricity, its (current) changes and adaptations, and its function and role for the environment, climate, and energy supply.

Impressions van Charmey

The bathing- and hotel complex of Charmey