It's hardly a secret that we at Great Rail Journeys do quite enjoy a great rail journey. Whether it's heritage rail, a funicular up a mountain, or just a regular commuter train, we love them all, because they're the best way to see a country - and what country can be better to see than Switzerland? With the majestic Alps, lakes that look like photo-shopped pictures, and idyllic towns and cities, this is a place that simply has to be seen by rail, purely because you wouldn't be able to keep your eyes on the road if you were driving.
A lot of our most beloved trains come from this region. The slow but steady Glacier Express, the high and mighty Jungfrau Express, and the punctual and comfortable TGV Lyria. However, we have a new contender for favourite train, and that is the golden-wrapped Chocolate Train. We can assure you that it is as delicious as it sounds.
This delightful railway is the epitome of all things Swiss, and covers pretty much everything that you imagined a Swiss escape could be. Beginning in lakeside Montreaux, enjoy the awe-inspiring scenery as you rise into the mountains above Lake Geneva. The track practically delivers birds' eye views, because as you ascend, you begin to see more of the towns and cities that surround the shores of the lake, as well as witnessing the seemingly never-ending stretch of the Alps that fade off into the horizon. Of course, passing through tunnels is a necessity, considering the terrain you'll be travelling through, but there is an upside - the complete surprise that is the scenery on the other side. Suddenly, the iconic views of Lake Geneva are cut off, and you're in a verdant woodland laced with hiking trails. Pass through the next tunnel, and you are thrown into a stunning valley, gently patched with flower-filled meadows and indifferent piebald cows.
Now, with a name like the Chocolate Train you can safely assume that it's not just a beautiful journey on the cards. Included in the cost of your ticket is a chocolate croissant and your choice of hot beverage, as well as a small selection of chocolates. But this is not all. Your first stop along the route is to La Maison du Gruyère, where they produce the famous and delicious Gruyère cheese. Next, enjoy a visit to the unbelievably beautiful medieval town of Gruyères, the best place to partake of some traditional Swiss cuisine. Finally, on your last visit of the day, you experience the namesake of this train: the Calliers Chocolate Factory. Now owned by Nestlé, you have the chance to learn about the history of the chocolate made here, watch the manufacturing process and sample a wide, WIDE variety of different chocolates.
Already the journey is spectacular. Already we are completely sold on the idea of a day jam packed with scenery, cheese, and chocolate. We wouldn't mind if they wanted to take us up in a 1970s pacer carriage at this point, but this is where the Chocolate Train continues to excel; with a choice of two types of carriages on board. One is the ever-elegant 'Belle Epoque' style carriage, which mirrors the beauty and sophistication of the 'Golden Age' of rail travel with its chic surroundings and comfortable seating. The other is the modern panoramic carriage, with enormous windows perfect for those who, like us, will probably sit with their faces pressed against them so as not to miss a moment. On the Chocolate Train, every moment is as sweet as its eponymous name suggests.