Dwight Peck's personal website

Young William's first trip to Switzerland

Curiosity and bemusement in the Alps and Préalps

The Château de Gruyères

You 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.

Young William (or Will; or Bill; Billy, at a need; but never Willie!) is tagging along with his Mum on a visit to her childhood Stomping Grounds.

We're preceded by huge trolls with cowbells on.

William's been told so much about Gruyères, he can't wait.

The château and village of Gruyères have always been a favorite. (I'm an Ami du Château de Gruyères and even used to run here 50km from Leysin once a year.)

The High Street (and the only street)

The castle at the far end. The village grew up along the ridge below the castle and was well established as a market town by the end of the 12th century -- the origins of the fortified castle are unknown but the present Savoyard square-plan establishment dates from about 1280. (Romans were here in the 2nd century.)

William's anxious to get going on his own.

And off he goes.

The village fountain (since about 1670)

Marching more or less in circles

Kristin in Gruyères

William laboring over the cobblestones uphill . . .

and rethinking the stroller concept

Trolls with Cowbells -- Basques, as it turns out, here to ring out their cowbells for a while.

Someone whispered "where are they from?", and someone else answered "Spain", and then we heard shouts of "Non! Non! País Vasco!!"

William the art critic

Basque trolls charging up the high street

To have their photographs taken with the proprietress of Le Chalet café

The H. R. Giger Museum (iconic amongst Alien and fantasy art fans)

William waving merrily at a Giger Something.

And getting a closer look at the other Somethings.

Up to the castle at the top of the ridge, and the former entrance, and . . .

. . . onward to the new entrance round the side.

William and Marlowe assaulting the main gate
(as a longtime Ami, I got in free; as a senior, I would have got a good deal anyway)

For many years, the castle trustees have mounted interesting (if slightly incongruous) exhibitions of art works artfully placed all over the grounds -- frequently futuristic and fantasy paintings, but this time the fascinating junk-metal sculptures of "Tuckson" (Tuckson Muvezwa of Zimbabwe).

"Wish to fly"

"Men at work"

More birds, on a cloudy day over Bulle

"Wish to fly" again

William and his aerobics on the left

Or yoga

The well and, behind it, the entrance, gift shop, and (upstairs) a theatre for the somewhat impressionistic 18-minute media show.

Artistic junk. And Kristin.

The chapel

The irresistible pull of Christian history

The walk round the outer battlements

Defenders prepared to rain missiles down on the besiegers

The castle from the fortification at the end of the gardens. (Beautiful Lucy's window can be seen in the round tower.)

-- Oh, neat! Drains!

The castle kitchen

The castle was rescued from desuetude and eventual ruin in the mid-19th century by the Bovy family from Geneva, who restored it and outfitted it with art by themselves and their highbrow friends, including Corot.

Imagine the Count himself arising from that tiny bed and pacing over to the table to sign historical documents.

This circular tower room is called Beautiful Lucy's room, with its tiny windows. "Beautiful Luce" is one of Gruyères' best claims on seriously romantic mythology, and she survives today (local high-school girls with a blonde wig on) in re-enactments and special events at the castle. (Photo credit)]

The social set of the 19th century visitors, including Franz Liszt's piano

The Knights' Hall, a business-like council chamber originally, done up in the 19th century with interesting though somewhat fanciful paintings of the Gruyères mythos.

William makes friends enthusiastically, but sometimes it's necessary to chase them a bit.

Scenes from Gruyères' legendary past (one part that is not merely legendary is the Gruyèriens' key role in the defeat of Charles the Bold of Burgundy at Morat in 1476).

Kristin admiring all the woodwork

The castle's inner courtyard

William and a cannon that would have blown the wooden structures into the next canton if it had ever been fired off from up here.

A mass of Patrick Woodroffe's fantasy paintings were exhibited here about 5 or 6 years ago, and some of them are still permanently on show down the narrow spiral staircase of one of the towers.

A modern Bosch, without the biblical references

William and the birds' chariot

Marlowe, watchful

It's good to stuff stones into the pipe.

-- Who says it isn't?!?

Everybody's hungry, it's time to go.

After three decades of avoiding restaurants here on the premise that they would be over-priced and touristy, we were forced by extreme famishness to try this one, and it was great. Good stuff, fair prices, and kindly staff.

-- It all looks so good! It's hard to choose.

Young people cavorting perilously outside our window

It's time for Will to learn how to use this thing.

We're leaving Gruyères in the rain.

Bill trying on some venturesome new shoes . . .

. . . and doing fairly well in them so far.

Will's first encounter with an alien (in the mall at Signy Centre)

The Michael Schumacher of the next generation

William saves energy, too, because he prefers to drive when there's no money in the machine.

Darth Vader and a Startrooper, right here in our local mall

-- Wow, Darth Vader!

Ready to go home to Canada? And tell Dad about our trip?

Marlowe and William in Switzerland, October 2012


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 16 November 2012.

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