La Bénichon is a celebration in Canton Fribourg, which dates back centuries! It's centred around the harvest and local food, so get ready to taste Fribourg specialities!
The origins of La Bénichon
It originated as a religious feast in the 15th century, in which local inhabitants gave thanks to God and patron saints in religious ceremonies in honour of the wonderful food from the harvest. Nowadays, La Bénichon is almost completely culinary and has lost its religious elements.
Traditional dishes served at La Bénichon
The typical foods served at La Bénichon in selected restaurants in the region include smoked ham, Fribourg sausage, cabbage soup, cuchaule (saffron bread) with Benichon mustard and caramelised pear known as Poire a Botzi accompanied by lamb stew. For dessert, there are meringues with double cream and flaky pastries known as cuquettes, wafer-type biscuits called bricelets, as well as aniseed biscuits.
Of course, there is also a cheese course consisting of the local cheese like Gruyère and Le Vacherin Fribourgeois. The cheeses, as well as the cuchaule bread and Poire a Botzi mentioned above have had the honour of being bestowed an AOP (Appellation d'origine contrôlée) label, reserved for certain kinds of French and Swiss wine, cheese, bread and other agricultural products.
La Bénichon dates and locations
The dates are spread out: the celebration takes place around the second weekend in September for the majority of the canton, but some of the more mountainous regions of the canton celebrate it around the second weekend of October. One town on the lake celebrates it even earlier.
Here's a brief overview of the different celebrations taking place in the various towns and villages in Canton Fribourg:
- August 28-29 in Estavayer-le-Lac
- September 10-12: Romont and Ecuvillents
- September 11-12: Bulle
- October 8-10: Charmey
- October 10-11: Gruyères
- October 15-17: Châtel-St-Denis
La Bénichon - participating restaurants
There are many restaurants in different towns and villages in Fribourg offering the special Bénichon menu for the occasion. Below is an overview of different towns, dates and restaurants, so you can get a taste of La Bénichon.
La Bénichon in Bulle
In Bulle, not only can you find the gastronomic feasts in many restaurants, but you can also find a craft fair in the castle courtyard as well as funfair attractions.
- Dates: September 11-12, 2021
Participating restaurants in Bulle
- Gare à toi
- Café de la Promenade
- La Cabriolle
- Hôtel de Ville
- Migros Restaurant de Gruyère Centre
- Cheval Blanc
- Le Fribourgeois
- Le Gruyérien
- Le Comte Michel
- Buvette du Sapin
La Bénichon in Charmey
Charmey, which is famous for Désalpe de Charmey, is also known for celebrating La Bénichon in a fun, convivial way. Expect to witness traditional cart racing, wherein each team of five people transforms their hay cart into a themed racing vehicle, with matching outfits for the participants based on the chosen theme. After races zip through the village, prizes are given not only for the quickest teams, but also for the most innovative and original carts.
- Dates: October 8-10, 2021
Participating restaurants in Charmey
- Romantik Hôtel l’Etoile
- Le Baron
- Restaurant Les Dents-Vertes
- Restaurant L’Enclume
- Hôtel Cailler
- Tea-Room Les Arcades
- Hôtel le Sapin
- Buvette des Invuettes
- La Pinte du Pralet Motélon
Other participating restaurants in Canton Fribourg
- Restaurant “Gruyère Traditions” in Gruyères
- Hôtel du Lion d'Or in Romont
- Restaurant La Gerbe d'Or in Estavayer-le-Lac
- Café-Restaurant Le Boulevard in Fribourg
- La Maison du Gruyère and Auberge de la Loue in Pringy
- Restaurant Le Manoir in Vaulruz
- L’Espace gourmand in Villars-sous-Mont
- Café de la Gare in Vuadens
- Restaurant la Crèmerie in Châtel-St-Denis
Plan your visit to a restaurant during La Bénichon
There are so many great restaurants where the centuries-old tradition of La Bénichon is celebrated, so check out the Fribourg tourism website, for a more extensive list of restaurants and dishes, pick a restaurant and soak up some gastronomic history of the region!