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SWISS CHOCOLATE ADVENTURE, LUCERNE
Switzerland is synonymous with fine-quality chocolate, but how did it gain that reputation? All is revealed at the Swiss Chocolate Adventure within the Museum of Transport in Lucerne. This educational ride starts in a lift which is dressed as a shipping container, symbolising the cocoa beans' importation from tropical regions. Then the visitor is seated in a bean-shaped vehicle that slides through a kaleidoscopic series of exhibits demonstrating the entire chocolate-making process, from growing to processing to eating, using clever audiovisual effects. Just when you're feeling ravenous, a selection of Lindt balls rolls out of a chute as the vehicle approaches it. Educational … and tasty.
Ticket CHF16 adults, CHF7 children, see verkehrshaus.ch
FUNKY CHOCOLATE CLUB, INTERLAKEN
The front of this chocolate shop is full of delicious things to eat, but it's at the rear of the establishment that the real magic happens. Attendees at its regular chocolate-making workshop stand around a stainless steel bench, wearing bright red chef's hats and white aprons, as they receive a grounding in the origin and manufacture of chocolate. Then it's all hands on, as students are taken step by step through the creation of the delectable treat. Each participant stirs couverture through molten chocolate before pouring it into templates to create three blocks, each tailored with additional ingredients. Members receive a chocolatier certificate, and can collect their chilled and ready-to-eat creations a few hours later.
Fee for adults CHF69, children CHF59, see funkychocolateclub.com
CONFISERIE SPRÜNGLI, ZÜRICH
For every Batman there is a Robin … and for every Lindt there is a Sprüngli. This dynamic duo began creating chocolate together in the 19th century, and the chocolate-manufacturing company is still officially named Lindt & Sprüngli. In 1892, however, the Zürich café known as Confiserie Sprüngli broke away to pursue a future as an upmarket confectioner. Its original branch still welcomes customers to its elegant interiors at its central Paradeplatz location, where it serves chocolates and other sweets, along with light meals and beverages. You can order a degustation selection of three pralines for CHF6 … but why not go the full monty and order seven pralines for CHF14?
CHOCOLATE TRAIN, MONTREUX
There's nothing the Swiss do better than chocolate; unless we're talking about cheese, or even railways. You can combine all three of these pleasures by catching the Chocolate Train, which runs along a scenic route from Montreux to Montbovon between May and October. From Montbovon a bus continues to the attractive medieval town of Gruyères, where tour members learn about the secrets of its famous cheese, and get to taste it. There's also time to visit the town's impressive castle. The final stop of the day is the Cailler-Nestlé chocolate factory at Broc, with another tasting included, before a transfer back to Montreux with the day's flavours lingering on the lips.
Fare from CHF90 adults, CHF65 children, see goldenpass.ch
The town of Flawil in Switzerland's north-east is well known for its production of chocolate. The Maestrani company has created a chocolate-themed discovery centre here, offering education and entertainment for all ages. A tour of its working factory is available, along with hands-on chocolate creation sessions. Kids are catered for via Globi's Chocolate Encounter, led by a blue parrot who's a well-known Swiss cartoon character. There's an on-site shop and café for more sampling of the goods afterwards.
Tour CHF14 adults, CHF8 children, see chocolarium.ch
This annual celebration of chocolate in all its forms is held in the town of Versoix, near Geneva, two weeks before Easter. There's a vast array of choc-themed activities on offer, including egg hunts, treasure hunts, workshops, a chocolate sculpture exhibition, and visits to a chocolate factory. In addition to these diversions, the event's dedicated Chocovillage hosts a range of food stalls and rides to delight the ardent chocoholic. There's even a slightly scary giant Easter bunny to take selfies with – what chocolate egg enthusiast could ask for more?
Free entry, next held March 28-29, 2020, see festichoc.ch
Tim Richards was hosted by Switzerland Tourism (myswitzerland.com) and travelled via the Swiss Travel Pass (myswitzerland.com/rail).