Valeyres-sous-Ursins & Gruyères

JUNE 14 - 21

My first stop in beautiful Switzerland was the rural village of Valeyres-sous-Ursins, located near Yverdon-les-Bains where I came in on the train. If you weren't able to guess from the names, this is the French side of the country. Switzerland is divided into three including the German and Italian speaking areas. Park and Christine live in a farmhouse originally built in the 1800's, and are neighbors with dairy farmers (where they get fresh milk from.) They themselves have two hens and a garden, providing eggs, fruits, and vegetables. On Sunday I helped Christine with a lunch party for her brother and nephew's birthday. She even made homemade strawberry ice-cream to accompany a cake that Park made for dessert. During the party I was speaking to the girlfriend of Christine's nephew who grew up in a small French village. We were talking about the sound of different languages, and I mentioned that American English probably isn't too pleasing to the European ear. Her eyes lit up as she said "No, you sound like the people from the movies!"

One day I took a specialty train bound for Gruyères, where gruyère cheese comes from. The cows, as I was reading, graze on a myriad of wild herbs such as vanilla pods and cumin which you can faintly taste. We were also brought to the medieval town of Gruyères, which was first established in the 11th century. On the way back was a stop in Broc where the Cailler chocolate factory is, Switzerland's first.