Lons le Saunier

Lons-le-Saunier is the capital of the Jura department in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The town owes its name to the salt springs which, exploited by the Romans, made the fortunes of the families of Burgundy, Vienne and Chalon in the Middle Ages, but even more so of numerous abbeys and convents.

Lons-le-Saunier is the gateway to the Jura massif and is one of the access routes to Switzerland. Situated at the foot of the Revermont, the town is at the crossroads of two axes : Paris-Lyon and Strasbourg-Lyon along the A39 highway. To the west, sits the lakes region and, beyond, the ski slopes of the Haut-Jura near the Swiss border.

The town has a catchment area of 80,000 inhabitants, for a population of 17,878 (35,907 in the ECLA conurbation). It enjoys a vibrant commercial life (400 shops) and has infrastructures with departmental and community influence: a hospital centre, 12 cinemas, an Italian-style theatre, the la Maison de La Vache qui rit®, a 5,000-seat congress centre and auditorium (Juraparc), an 800-seat concert hall (Le Boeuf sur le toit), a Museum of Fine Arts, thermal baths, etc.

Historian, Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, the author of our national anthem was born in Lons-le-Saunier on May 10, 1760 although his family resided in Montaigu. A student at the military school in Paris and then at the royal school in Mézières, he was a captain of engineering in Strasbourg in 1791. He composed the War Song for the Army of the Rhine during the night of 24th to 25th April 1792.
In 1796, he resigned from the army and retired to Lons-le-Saunier. After a relatively miserable end of life, he died in Choisy-le-Roi on 27 June 1836. The Marseillaise became the national anthem in 1795 and again in 1879. In 1882 a statue of Auguste Bartholdi was inaugurated in Lons-le-Saunier. He also gave his name to a street and a college in the town.

The city of Lons-le-Saunier, which was visited by the Tour de France this year, is has a passion for cycling. It hosted the federal cycling week in 1995 and hosts many mountain bike French Cups on the Montciel plateau.

The prefecture of Jura is proud to welcome this sportive in 2021 to celebrate the 100 years of La Vache qui rit, an emblematic company dear to the inhabitants of the Jura.


La Maison de La Vache qui rit®

The Concept

Created in 2009 by Catherine Sauvin – Léon Bel’s granddaughter – and Bernard Hanet, la Maison de La Vache qui rit® is built on the very site where the brand was born in 1921, in Lons-le-Saunier, in the heart of the Jura. Today, it enjoys a new lease of life.

Since its opening, La Maison de La Vache qui rit has become the reference point for the brand’s memory. It offers a unique insight into one of the most impressive French industrial and marketing adventures of the 20th century. more than a museum, this house is also a space for reinterpreting a brand’s values.

It therefore embodies the same generosity, the same capacity for exchange and encounters. From Jules Bel’s first refining workshop to the meeting of new markets, the scenography goes back in time through the advertising and industrial history of The Laughing Cow and the Bel Group.

It has been enriched by Bel’s development and innovations, testifying to the great dynamism of the brand and the teams that keep it alive. But the mission of La Maison de La Vache qui rit, through its cultural and artistic programming, is also to go beyond the evocation of the brand to associate its values with contemporary actions and offbeat events. In the manner of a think tank, it contributes to giving new meaning and depth to the Bel Group’s evolution, in touch with questions that are crucial to the evolution of our environment, such as shared intelligence, sustainable development and living together.

La Maison: “idea laboratory house”, a new way of looking at things

The original building built by the Reichen and Robert agency, elegant in its rough wood and concrete attire, has not aged a bit, but the museography had to evolve to better embody the brand and the Bel Group. To do this, a competition was launched, won by the architectural firm Encore Heureux, led by Julien Choppin, Nicola Delon and Sébastien Eymard. The challenge was to make it a resolutely contemporary and surprising house. With this in mind, the scenographers, in association with the deValence studio (graphic design and visual identity), the Ph. A agency (lighting), the BASE agency for the exterior, under the guidance of Atelier Zou (operation architects) from Lons-le-Saunier, imagined the new visitor circuit.

The two thousand square metres of the building have been entirely re-laid out and refurbished, with the aim of giving fluidity to the visit, life, emotion and interactivity. Visitors will be able to surprise themselves, escape, discover, share and live in this house. The entire museography offers the visitor an experience, immersed in the world of La Vache qui rit®, in a warm and welcoming home where he feels good. It’s a place where there is always something happening.