Dwight Peck's personal website
visit to Switzerland,
graduated from university, soon to be off to job-hunting, Marlowe visits the Old
Dad in Switzerland.
of Switzerland: Gruyères, 2007
may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a
good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught
up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
trudging up to the side gate -- it's tourist high season, and we're hoping to
slip in unnoticed.
Belluard Barbican, the sneaky way into town from the northern side, halfway along
Gruyères High Street, late June 2007
Monsieur -- lovely melted cheese sandwich. I've ordered one on my last three
visits to Gruyères, and each one took more than 15 minutes to toast it
up. (I could do better just breathing on it. ) Thus, my advice: just settle for
the pre-packaged cheese or meringues, or a Tastee-Freeze "ice cream"
High Street, looking past the chapel towards the château. Actually restaurants
on both sides of the street specialize in tasty, overpriced tourist horrors, like
strawberries in Gruyère double-cream, meringues in double-cream, all-Gruyère
cheese fondue, and a discount on emergency cardiac care. A croque monsieur is
about as brave as I'm willing to be in the afternoon.
genuine Gruyère double-cream on a meringue and a fondue just won't do!
the chapel, the Château St Germain, continuing on the left up to main castle.
The H. R. Giger museum is housed in that main block -- I've been walking by it
for years, and finally, in 2007, we went in and found it 1) fairly expensive,
and 2) filled with some pretty repetitive, nasty art on the general theme of Penetration
from the special effects guy on the "Alien" movies. Some details below.
narrator (left), posing with one of Hanneke Beaumont's fantastic bronze fellows,
displayed all around and within the Castle in the summer of 2007.
Esplanade at the Château de Gruyères. The Dent de Broc (1829m) and
Dent du Chamois (1830m) loom 3 or 4 kilometres to the east. Some of Hanneke's
guys are chatting at the picnic table.
view from the Esplanade down to Epagny just below, Broc (seat of the Caillier
chocolate works) in the top right, and the recently human-made Lac de la Gruyère
(1948) in the distance.
lovely animated little'un, jumping along and explaining to her Mum all the neat
things she'd seen in the castle gardens.
the castle, we've paid our fee, now we'll go see what's on offer for this season
(the entrance fee is reasonably small, but as an Ami du Château de Gruyères we're a freebie anyway). The Castle of Gruyères is famous for its exhibitions
of new, and mostly surrealistic-ish art, so we tremble with anticipation.
Hanneke Beaumont (1947- ) this time -- wonderful bronze sculptures of guys, all
of them either talking or listening, and all of them leaning and peering.
here in the courtyard, Hanneke's boys are either listening to a lecture or lecturing
kitchen (not Hanneke's)
remains of Old Soldiers, with the old soldiers gone. Modern soldiers, with their
night-vision cameras on their helmets and kevlar flak jackets, will also look
gone in museum displays of the future, leaving behind only their kevlar.
another. The castle was bought by the Bovy and Balland families in the 19th century,
and some of the best painters in the region, including Corot,
got to dab away at the walls of these family rooms in the main block. (I won't
name the others, because though they're famous I'd never heard of them. But, for
flowers, maidens, and birdies, they are hot!)
gardens below. This is viewed from the tiny window of the tower room of "Beautiful
Luce", who's one of Gruyères' best claims on seriously romantic
mythology, and who survives today (local high-school girls with a blonde wig on)
in re-enactments and special events at the castle. (Photo
funky Bovy-Balland decorating in the family living rooms
Hall of Preposterous Heroic Art
Judgment Seat -- Hanneke's vision of the Law (just my guess)
courtyard from somewhere up along the ramparts
Drapeau Suisse fluttering
art, a fine Gruyères tradition, ranged up and down the walls of one of
the towers. Extremely interesting paintings by Patrick Woodroffe,
fantasy art in the tower by Patrick Woodroffe. It's generic fantasy art, perhaps,
but wonderful stuff. Unfortunately, all of it's ranged up and down the tower's
spiral staircase, with chubby people trying to ease past us with as little human
contact as possible, thankfully.
courtyard from the inner ramparts
bronze boys, waiting for something
the gardens, another one of Hanneke's Chaps, some tourists, and the village of
Estavannens in the distance
Dents du Broc and du Chamois, and the gardens of Gruyères Castle
cute little tourist train passing out past the H. R. Giger Museum. H. R. Giger
was a superb draftsman with a very strange sense of beauty who designed the special
effects for the Hollywood movies about Alien and Poltergeist, and
who, in a flush of misplaced enthusiasm, bought up this old building in the heart
of Gruyères and made a museum about himself. The art of H. R.Giger is well-drawn,
well-colored, worshipped by teenaged males, and surrealistically penetrative
and sometimes disturbing and, at the end of the day, absolute rubbish in my view.
If your teenagers insist upon paying the outrageous entrance fee, pay it for them,
wait for them outside, and, when they emerge again, explain to them that not all
art needs to be so repugnant, titillating, violent, and irrelevant, but they won't
Château St Germain, left centre, and the Château de Gruyères,
château from the far (south) end of town, with some "victory gardens"
ranged along the eastern hillside below the village.
Super Petit-Train of Gruyères
last look at Gruyères for 2007.
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 29 August 2007, revised 29 September 2014.
credit: Jacques Kuenlin.