Many years ago I won my Girl Guides’ dairymaid badge.  To earn it I had to milk a cow by hand and assist in a dairy parlour.  So when random holiday googling revealed that the world’s largest dairy museum was to be found in France, all that remained was to mould our summer plans around a visit.  Lactopôle, Cité du Lait (as it is called) is located in Laval on the Mayenne river and that has a cycle path, so I was able to sell the holiday as a cycling adventure rather than a museum pilgrimage.


One day in 1933, André Besnier collected 35 litres of milk and made 17 camemberts, they sold and he made more.  So popular where his cheeses that he set up a factory.  By 1968 his son had not only expanded the business but come up with the President brand.  Now the company is the world’s largest dairy group with factories in over sixty countries.  In the UK they own Rachel’s Organic.  The original factory now houses the museum.  You start your visit with a tour that takes in every step in the production of camembert, from the arrival of milk to the final wrapping of the cheese.


Not content with making vast quantities of cheese, Monsieur Besnier set about assembling a collection of all things dairy.  Milk churns, butter churns, butter pats, cheese labels and even a formula one racing car sponsored by Parmalat (the Italian dairy business now owned by Lactalis).  All of this is lovingly displayed in the next section of Lactopôle.  Who knew that so many different types of butter churn existed?


You end your tour with tasting some of the many cheeses made by the company before emerging into the shop where you can buy said cheese.  Lactopôle is one of those places that insist you take a tour.  They do do tours in English but you need to plan ahead.  We just arrived and tagged along with a French tour, they gave us an English translation to read and that was fine.

While we were in Laval we stayed at the Manoir de Rouessé, a formerly grand house that is being lovingly restored by its owners.  It has turrets and winding staircases perfect for the Junior CW’s.  More about our cycling tour later.

18 rue Adolphe Beck, Laval, France
Open: Daily in the summer holidays
Admission: Adult €10, Family ticket €25

Lou Messugo
Oregon Girl Around the World

Linked to Fearless Family Travel linky



  1. January 6, 2017 / 4:22 pm

    I have to admit I saw the photo of the butter churns and wondered what kind of post this would be. SO interesting though. I now want some president cheese :)

  2. January 7, 2017 / 6:31 am

    Excellent. Love the way that you sold it as a cycling holiday! ;) We have a dairy museum here in Luxembourg, one of those hands-on kid-oriented places with a free milkshake at the end of the tour. Oh… I think you’ve just given me a blog idea… Thanks! #CulturedKids

    • January 7, 2017 / 9:20 am

      *starts planning holiday to Luxembourg*

  3. January 8, 2017 / 2:32 pm

    Like Daisythebus I love the sneaky way you sold the holiday! 2 things struck me here: one that President camembert – the most famous of all camemberts – isn’t even from Camembert département and two, how disappointing it is to find out that Rachel’s Organic is owned by President! I hate it when you discover things like that…thinking RO was a small independent company only to find it’s part of a megabrand. Fascinating post Catherine, thanks for linking to #AllAboutFrance

  4. Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    January 9, 2017 / 10:37 am

    A girl after my own heart – finding weird random museums to take the family.
    Have made a note for the France-themed round-up.
    #culturedkids. And now, as I write the words cultured kids, I’m imagining them in the butter churn too…

    • January 9, 2017 / 1:41 pm

      Cultured kids would be a yoghurt!

    • January 10, 2017 / 2:25 pm

      Trish, #AllAboutFrance is on every 1st Thursday of the month, would love to see you there!

  5. pigeonpairandme
    January 9, 2017 / 1:10 pm

    Utterly brilliant! Trish’s comment about buttery cultured kids made me laugh, too….I’m glad you were able to revive your childhood love of milking and all things dairy. I do enjoy hearing about museums, as there seems to be a place dedicated to everything under the sun. But of course, dairy and cheese is so important in France, it would be strange NOT to have a dairy museum there. Great post – thanks for linking up with #CulturedKids.

  6. January 12, 2017 / 6:07 pm

    That sounds like a lot of fun! Reading Nell’s comment from above I couldn’t help but laugh reading it as “udder-ly!” I would love having a cheese tasting after a tour of the museum. That sounds great. #culturedkids

  7. Clare Thomson
    January 15, 2017 / 2:56 pm

    So many things to love about this post, not least those gorgeous Camembert labels and that Manoir looks like just the kind of place I’d love to visit. I come from a few generations of farmers and dairymen so this is a museum I really need to go to. Thanks for sharing with us on #FarawayFiles

  8. January 16, 2017 / 9:14 pm

    The perfect accompaniment to Bordeaux’s wine museum I think! I would love to visit here and you even sold me on the cycling trip. I love the old cheese labels and the gorgeous countryside. Some of the best things about France packaged up in one experience. Thanks for joining us on #FarawayFiles

    • January 16, 2017 / 9:21 pm

      I liked the sound of your wine museum. We should have a #FarawayFiles road trip

  9. January 17, 2017 / 1:47 pm

    Sooo cheesy! You had me at camembert. Love quirky places like this. And now I want cheese. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles – cheers from Copenhagen!

  10. February 10, 2017 / 3:29 am

    I’m not a big fan of cheese (shocker, I know!) but I love how this all started with someone’s passion for cheese, which turned into all things dairy, and now this very interesting looking museum!

  11. February 10, 2017 / 9:50 am

    a city of milk? interesting museum:) #farawayfiles

    • February 10, 2017 / 9:52 am

      The fields around Laval are full of cows!

  12. Clare Thomson
    February 11, 2017 / 4:11 pm

    Great to read this again for #farawayfiles. Still making me hungry…

  13. April 5, 2017 / 7:45 pm

    I love these type of unusual museums – thanks for linking to #fearlessfamtrav

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