Lactalis has been wholly dedicated to processing milk since 1933. Over the years, we have observed and been involved in enormous changes in the sector, which has evolved from a rural craft-based activity to a state-of-the-art industry.
The aim of this museum is to show younger generations the history behind dairy products, the way they underpin our culture and their importance in our heritage. It also describes the unprecedented industrial adventure of our group, which has followed the path set by our founder, André Besnier, to become one of the flagships of French industry, with products available on five continents.
Visiting the museum
The Cité du Lait is easy to find and offers direct public access. It is located on the group’s original site, just a stone’s throw from our current head office, proving just how important the city of Laval is to us. Come and explore dairy traditions in our vibrant, extensive museum (over 5,000m²). More than 2,500 exhibits, many unique or highly unusual, are presented in attractive tableaux with numerous multimedia displays. You should allow 90 minutes to visit the three parts of the museum:
- First of all, come and tour Laval Dairy, the group’s very first site. It has been faithfully recreated in the original building with authentic equipment.
- The second part of your visit is dedicated to The history of the dairy industry. Here, you will explore in detail the many facets of the transformation of a fundamental and universal raw material – milk.
- Lastly, step into the Lactalis, passionate about dairy since 1933 exhibition and share the amazing adventure of this family business down through three generations. View our products and soak up our pioneering spirit and values.
Laval Dairy (1948)
Our dairy adventure began here after André Besnier decided to transfer the small business he had founded in 1933 to this site. This is where we moved from artisanal production to large-scale manufacturing of a range of products, beginning with the Camembert and butter on which the company was founded. Enter the museum via the former loading bay with its milk churns and immerse yourself in the group’s history by discovering a mid-twentieth-century dairy:
- Milk reception area
- Milk storage, butter making
- Camembert moulding
- Maturing room
The history of the dairy industry
For the second part of the visit, walk through into the stylish, modern museum with its blue-tinted lighting. This area covers all aspects of milk processing. Naturally, the introductory exhibits are dedicated to milk, the cornerstone of our industry. This fundamental raw material is the very first food we ever taste. Milk is life! It is the most precious food we have, and throughout history mankind has worked to learn about it, store it and shape it for a range of uses. From collection through to processing, from the simplest methods through to the most elaborate, discover the extraordinary range of products created from milk:
- Liquid milk
- Chilled products, yoghurt,
- Butter and cream
- Products obtained from milk and their applications
Lactalis, passionate about dairy since 1933
You’ll notice a change of décor as you move up to the first floor, dedicated to the fabulous adventure that is Compagnie Laitière Besnier, known since 1999 as Lactalis. You may be surprised to learn that even today, Lactalis is a family business. The founder’s family still have 100% control. Down through three generations, the company has become a stalwart of the dairy industry. The museum uses successive sections to tell the story; some are chronological while others explore a specific theme:
- A family saga
- Products and brands
- Label collection