Le Moléson – a mountain of recreation

Le Moléson is a mountain of the Swiss Prealps, overlooking the region of Gruyères in the canton of Fribourg. In fact, the first time that I heard about it was when I was on Rochers de Naye, the parent peak of  Le Moléson. This time, when I was planning my trip to the demonstration cheese dairy – La Maison du Gruyère, I decided to visit this mountain as well, because first of all, the two places are closely located and secondly, La Gruyère Tourism Office suggested to me that the summit of it provides the best view over western Switzerland. I can’t promise you whether it’s the best or not because I haven’t been to all the mountains yet but I can assure you that the view is indeed marvelous. For an overview of Le Moléson, please click here.

In this post, you just need to follow my journey from the village Gruyères to Moléson-Village (by bus) and from there to Plan-Francey (by funicular) and eventually to the summit of Le Moléson (by cablecar). I’ll give you some suggestions about what to do and what to see in those places. When necessary, I’ll also provide you with some practical information such as the opening hours and ticket prices of the funicular trains and cable cars. Of course, photos will also be attached to demonstrate to you more directly and clearly how beautiful this region is. Are you ready? Now let’s get started.

1. Gruyères

Honestly, I am always enchanted by the peaceful and harmonious village life of Switzerland. The mountain pastures, the sound of the cowbells and the streams, the bellowing of the cows… everything just seems so relaxing and natural. On the way from Bulle to Gruyères, I saw so many cows on the pastures against the background of the Alps. What a typical landscape of Switzerland!

When you’re in Gruyères, what I strongly recommend doing is to visit La Maison du Gruyère, a demonstration cheese dairy which takes you into the heart of the senses with an exhibition full of aromas and tastes. The highlight here is to watch live how Le Gruyère AOP is actually made in the factory. If you want to know more about this factory, please click here to read my another post dedicated solely to it. The other attraction that I would recommend you visiting is the Château de Gruyères (the Gruyères Castle), once the residence of the counts of Gruyère. Nowadays, a visit to it represents a journey through eight centuries of architecture, history and culture. If you say you’re not really into castles, you can simply have a walk around. The special location of it makes le Château de Gruyères one of the most popular targets for photo-shooting. There are in general two circular paths available. The first one is called “tour du Gruyères”, which takes 15 mins to finish and the second one is called “tour de la colline”, which takes 45 mins to finish. Both routes are around the castle but the second circle is a bit bigger than the first one and that’s why it takes longer.

Now let’s take a bus from Gruyères to Moléson-Village (Moléson-sur-Gruyères)

2. Moléson-Village (Moléson-sur-Gruyères)

Once you take a bus and arrive at the stop “Moléson-sur-Gruyères”, you can probably see the funicular train going up to Plan-Francey already. However, be patient. Please turn right and walk for around 5 minutes to visit the Moléson-Village first. This is a village with history and story.

Moléson-Village was born of the fertile imagination of several Fribourg residents who had a vision for developing the economy and tourism at the same time. The utopian idea of the 1960s to build a model village was eventually killed by controversy and financial difficulties. It began to take shape again in 1978, but in a much different form than originally imagined.

This epic story is just as much about tourism (the dream of a mountain resort) as it is about architecture (more than 150 plans, most of which never saw the light of day), economics (more than 20 million francs invested) and even sociology…

If you wanna continue reading about its story, please click here. If you are not really interested, let me show you around so that you know this is really a great place for families (children as well as adults) to have a lot of fun!

In this village, or around it, you can visit the cheese dairy, the bouncing castles and the playground, ride the bobsleigh or the downhill cart and play mini golf. However, please note that these activities are mostly available only in the summer season. If you come in winter, most likely these recreation facilities are closed due to safety reason.

2.1 The cheese dairy:

At the foot of the Moléson, a 17th-century chalet has been converted into a demonstration cheese dairy (please note that this dairy is different from the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post, which is located next to the Gruyères train station). It houses a traditional restaurant and displays a selection of local products. During the summer season, cheesemaking demonstrations are featured. Old and new utensils commonly found in alpine chalets decorate the interior.

Opening hours:

  • Daily from mid-May to the end of September: 9:00 – 19:00

Prices:

  • Adult CHF 5.-
  • Senior CHF 4.-
  • Child (6 to 14 years old): CHF 2.-
  • Group (10 people or more): CHF 4.- per person
  • School Group: CHF 1.- per person

Please note that a 45-minute demonstration can be arranged by reservation daily (in summer) at 10:00. Guided tours are also possible. For more information or for contact details please click here.

2.2 The bobsleigh, downhill cart and mini golf

Opening hours:

  • Open daily in 2017 from 25th May to 1st November: 11:00 – 18:00

Ticket prices:

  • 1 token: CHF 6.-
  • 4 to 9 tokens: CHF 5.50.-/token
  • 10 to 20 tokens: CHF 5.-/token
  • from 21 tokens: CHF 4.50.-/token

Please note that:

  • in autumn, the bobsleigh is open during the weekends of good weather from 11:00 to 18:00
  • with one “leisure park token” (for sale at the main bobsleigh ticket office or at the mini golf snack bar) you can choose one of the 3 following activities : bobsleigh, downhill cart or minigolf
  • if you have any more question such as whether the bobsleigh is open or not, please contact Moléson Tourism Office by phone: +41 26 921 85 00 or by email: info@moleson.ch

2.3 The bouncing castle

Opening hours:

  • Open daily in 2017 from 25th May to 18th September: 11:00 – 18:00 (weather permits)

Ticket price:

  • CHF 4.- for 1 bracelet (valid for all day and for the bouncy castles).

Having had so much fun, now let’s come back to the mountain Le Moléson.

3. From Moléson-sur-Gruyères to Le Moléson

Please note that in order to get to the summit of the Moléson you have to take a funicular train to the middle station Plan-Francey and then transfer to the cable car to reach the top. Of course an alternative is to hike to the summit, but it takes at least 2 hours 45 mins. If you like hiking, I suggest that you do hiking for one way and take a funicular train and a cable for the other way. In this way, you can not only do some exercises but also enjoy the panorama view, take a rest and relax yourself. Now let’s take a look at the schedule and ticket prices for the funicular train and cable car first.

3.1 Practical information

In 5 minutes, the funicular train takes you from Moléson-sur-Gruyères (1100m) to Plan-Francey (1520m), departure point for many hiking trails, for the via ferrata and for the cable car to the summit of Le Moléson. Once you reach the summit, a fantastic restaurant and a superb panorama platform with amazing views await you. To be honest I really regret it that I didn’t make it to a Friday or Saturday evening when I could stay on the mountain till 23:00. How I wish I could watch the stars from the summit and take some nice photos. Probably I will come here again on a Friday or Saturday between January and March in 2018 (because during this period of time the cableway will again be running till 23:00).

3.1.1 Opening hours:

The funicular train and cable car are open daily from 25.05.2017 to 01.11.20179:00 – 18:00

Please note that:

  • the funicular train and cable car departure every 20 minutes
  • every Friday and Saturday evening from June to October they open till 23:00
  • in autumn, the funicular train and cable car are open on weekends of good weather from 9:00 to 18:00
  • the schedule above is only for summer season, for more information about the schedule in winter season please click here
3.1.2 Ticket Prices:
  • One way to Plan-Francey: CHF 14.00
  • Return Plan-Francey: CHF 22.00
  • One way to Le Moléson Summit: CHF 22.00
  • Return Le Moléson Summit: CHF 35.00
  • 3 Ways optional: CHF 30.00

Please note that:

  • the prices shown above are for individual adults, discounts are available for young people (9-23 years old, 35% off), children (up to 9 years old, free), seniors (men from 65 and women from 64 years old, – CHF 2.00 per person), groups (more than 10 people, – CHF 2.00 per person) and half-price card and GA card holders (- CHF 2.00 per person)
  • the price shown above is for summer and autumn seasons, for more information about the prices for winter season please click here

3.2 Hiking trails

There are many hiking trails starting from Moléson-sur-Gruyères, Plan-Francey and Le Moléson. I strongly recommend you visiting the “Hikes” page of the official website of Moléson and you will find not only themed hiking trails such as the panoramic trail, the botanical trail and the cheese dairy trail but also the hiking trail map, where 13 hiking trails are clearly marked in this region covering even Gruyères and Broc. Of course, the map is also available at the funicular and cable car stations.

Considering the summit of Le Moléson is the highlight of this trip, I’ll list some hiking trails with it included as options for you to consider. For example:

  • from Moléson-sur-Gruyères to Plan-Francey through les Clés (1.5 h) and from Plan-Francey to Le Moléson through Bonne Fontaine (1.5 h/1 h)
  • from Moléson-sur-Gruyères to Plan-Francey through Moléson à Baron (1.25 h/45 min) and from Plan-Francey to Le Moléson through Tremetta (2.5 h)
  • from Moléson-sur-Gruyères to Le Moléson through le Gros-Moléson (2 h 10 min/3 h 10 min)

Anyway, you can combine these paths as you like or even include some funicular or cable car rides to make your journey easier and more relaxing. It might seem a bit complicated when I write about these routes in words, but once you see the map, I believe you will see them clearly and understand them easily. Don’t forget what I said at the beginning, the summit is a must-visit attraction.

3.3 On the way

Either in the funicular train or in the cable car, the ascent was accompanied by the gradual change of the scenes. The higher I went, the smaller the towns and villages became and the more mountains appeared. It seemed that the mountains were playing a hide-and-seek-game and when I got closer and closer to the summit, they started showing themselves.

In China, I was living in a city far away from the mountains so there weren’t many opportunities for me to take cable cars. However, since I arrived in Switzerland, I can’t count how many times I’ve taken them already. I still remember that in the first several months, whenever I went to the mountains I would take the cables and call my mum when I was in them. My mum always said, “Be careful, be careful!” The first few times when I took them I also felt a bit nervous and scared, but after visiting 3 or 4 mountains, I’ve got used to them and I do trust Swiss quality. To be honest, this time, I got a bit nervous when I was in the funicular train. The rail seemed so narrow and steep and it was only supported by some steel columns on the ground. I knew for sure in my heart that it’s safe but still, the experience was a bit thrilling.

As I was approaching the summit, I saw people climbing on the via ferrata (a protected climbing route found in the Alps and certain other locations). For me, this already counts as extreme sport… I’ll explain more about it in the next section.

3.4 The via ferrata

Though having lived in Switzerland for several years already, climbing the via ferrata still seems scary and challenging for me. I’ve done some mountain ridge hiking, which was scary enough for me, but I’m not yet ready to try via ferrata climbing. In fact, I think it’s a rather popular sport in Switzerland, especially in the Alps because many of the mountains that I’ve been to provide via ferrata and there were always brave people on the way.

Here in Moléson, you also have the opportunity to climb the north side of the mountain fitted with steps, from Plan-Francey to the summit (around 400 m in height).

Opening hours of the equipment renting service (subject to weather conditions):

Open daily from mid-June to mid-October:

  • Sunday to Thursday: 9:00 – 15:00
  • Friday and Saturday: 9:00 – 17:00

Prices:

  • Combi-Ferrate Package: CHF 47.00 (including rental of equipments, course and lifts)
  • Renting of necessary equipments: CHF 18.00
  • Course: CHF 4.00

Please note that:

  • the first section (lower part) of the via ferrata in Moléson is the same but later as you go higher there are two routes to choose from (Le Pilier or La Face)
  • if you take the route all by yourself, you should bring appropriate and specific equipments and be knowledgeable about their use
  • don’t leave the designed route
  • don’t take the via ferrata in unfavorable weather conditions

4. On the summit of Le Moléson

Once you reach the summit station of Le Moléson, you reach the highlight of our tour as well. The peak of Moléson stands 2002 meters above sea level and the viewing platform on top of the cable car station (also on top of the summit restaurant) offers a great view over the Alps, the area of Lake Geneva and the Gruyères region. If you haven’t done any hiking yet, I personally suggest you visit the restaurant, the viewing platform, the meteorological station, and the peak of Le Moléson. Please note that the summit cable car station, the restaurant and the viewing platform are in the same building, which is in the middle between the the meteorological station and the peak of Le Moléson. If you wanna visit the latter two places, you just need to hike on an easy path for around 5-10 mins. The views from them are worth your time and efforts.

4.1 The restaurant and the viewing platform

The reason why I recommend to you the restaurant here is that it’s a perfect place to relax and to have some meals or just a cup of coffee while being surrounded by numerous fabulous mountain peaks. When I was in the restaurant, the waitress was super helpful and friendly. Because I arrived exactly at lunch time so the terrace was rather crowded. I finally found a table but there was no chair available. After failing several attempts to find a spare chair, I decided to move inside but I had to inform the waitress so she wouldn’t look for me on the terrace to deliver my food. After learning about my situation, she started asking other people in French and finally I got a chair! For one thing, I realized how important it was to speak the local language and for the other thing, I really appreciate how kind she was to help me during such busy time and in such a touristy restaurant. By the way, it was also here that I saw many people doing paragliding, flying together with the mountain crows, as shown in the featured picture of this post. I can hardly imagine how it feels to be a paraglider and if I have to choose between climbing the via ferrata and paragliding, I’d rather climb on the rocks…

The reason why I recommend to you the viewing platform is that it is here that you will learn from the info board about the names of the mountains around as well as the names of some famous or big cities and lakes. For example, from here you will be able to find and recognize Geneva, Lake Geneva, Lake Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel, Lake Biel, Fribourg, Bulle, Lake Gruyère, Brienzer Rothorn, Titlis, Niesen, Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn, Eiger, Jungfrau, Gletscherhorn, Aletschorn, Glacier 3000, etc.. The mountains that I mentioned above are the ones I know or have been to, but there are for sure many more that you can see from here. For me, it’s very important to know the names of the mountains because some of them look quite different when viewed from different locations but they are exactly the ones and the same. It always makes me feel excited when I can tell that “Ah, this is Junfrau! This is Eiger and this is Aletschorn!”

 4.2 The meteorological station

4.3 The peak of Le Moléson

As you can see from the pictures above, the meteorological station is marked by the measuring devices and the peak is marked by a pyramid-shaped iron statue, which also represents the peak of a mountain I guess. To be honest, the view of these two sites are not dramatically different from the viewing platform but from the meteorological station you will have a better view of Lake Geneva and that region while from the peak, you will have a better view of the Gruyères region. The paths leading to these two sites are also super easy to walk on so I guess even if you are not into sports, you can reach them without any trouble.

I guess here comes the end of our trip to Le Moléson. It was such a pity that I didn’t visit the summit on a Friday or Saturday evening in Summer. Otherwise I could have taken some nice photos of either the starry sky or the towns or cities in the valley. I’m already expecting to visit it again in the winter season because during that time the sun goes down earlier than in summer and the funicular train and cable car will again be running till 23:00 on Fridays and Saturdays. Trust me, this is a good opportunity if you wanna shoot some nice starry night photos without staying overnight because not that many cables ways in Switzerland run that late. What’s more, please note that the information I provided above is mostly about traveling in the summer season in Moléson. If you are planning to come in winter, please click here and choose the winter season page to know more information about the snow sports, the restaurants, the night life and the events here. In any case, the Moléson region meets the expectations of everyone who is in love with the Swiss Alps and welcomes all the visitors with various recreation activities. Maybe I’ll see you there at the beginning of 2018?

 

Le Moléson – a mountain of recreation was last modified: November 14th, 2017 by Dong

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