Rail route of the month: cheese, chocolate and a magical ride to the Swiss town of Gruyères

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The scenery – and delicacies – get better and better for our slow travel expert as she takes a local train through Canton Fribourg to a beautiful medieval village

It was a handpainted sign on a wooden barn that piqued my interest in Gruyères. I was travelling from Emmental to Montreux last year, following the wonderful Golden Pass rail route. Our train paused at Montbovon, the start of a steep climb up to the line’s final dramatic mountain pass. There was the prospect of stunning views of Lake Geneva ahead. To the right of the railway, I spotted the bold sign: “La Gruyère vous salue” (the cheese lacks the village’s final “s”).

With time to spare earlier this month, I returned to Montbovon to explore the branch railway that runs from there down the Sarine valley to Gruyères and beyond. This time I arrive on one of the new Golden Pass trains which now run through from Montreux to Interlaken, relying on some technical magic to slip from narrow-gauge to standard-gauge tracks along the way. The tourists in the posh prestige class are tucking into platters of charcuterie accompanied by Swiss wine. The climb up from Montreux is as magical as ever, twisting and turning up into the hills with Lake Geneva far below. Forty minutes out from Montreux, the train makes its first scheduled stop. This is Montbovon, a village that my old Baedeker guide advises is “noted for good cherry brandy”. I am the sole passenger alighting from the train, which after a brief stop is on its way again, now following the Sarine valley upstream towards Gstaad.

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