Gruyeres

Rising above the plain on a rocky crag against a backdrop of Alpine foothills, the castle village of Gruyères seduces from afar. This perfect specimen of a medieval stronghold comes complete with a cobbled main street, stone fountains, and well-preserved houses, whose occupants try to outdo each other with picturesque facades and geranium displays in summer. The town was once the capital of the Alpine estates of the Burgundian counts of Gruyères, and its traditional crest bears a stylized crane (grue,) a motif that adorns countless pieces of the town's famed blue-and-white or dark-red-and-white pottery. Gruyères is car-free, so you'll have to park in one of three lots outside town and walk up from the Maison du Gruyère.

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