6 June 2018

La Maison de la vache qui rit, Lons-le-Saunier, Jura (39)

Yes, I know: pure capitalism, so what's it doing here? Why am I in effect advertising a (mainly processed) cheese, particularly since I'm a long-term vegetarian with strong vegan sympathies? A sense of the ridiculous is my only plea: a museum devoted to Laughing Cow cheese? Difficult to ignore visiting, although I certainly don't eat it. Historically, too, this museum is very interesting, showing how the logo developed many mutations. I almost hate to say it, but although we thought we were in for a very kitschy time we really enjoyed this place.

Benjamin Rabier (1864–1939) was an illustrator and author born in La Roche-sur-Yon and who died in Faverolles. His design of La Vache qui rit brought him fame. In his memoirs, Rabier says that he spent sleepless nights trying to make a cow laugh, and even hired a cow and calf from his milkman to greatly aid his task. He illustrated La Fontaine's Fables and Le Roman de Renart. From 1915 he successfully drew advertising material for many different companies. But in the end it was his duck Gédéon, enjoyed by many children, which brought him the most success.

We visited La Vache qui rit on the first day of its re-opening, which was 2 June 2018. At the moment at least, towards the end of the visit there is an extensive display of African art products, using recycled metal objects. Yes, at the top of this exhibit is a circular disc representing a laughing cow!

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