In the heart of the French countryside, Laguiole is a beautiful village known for its knives. Here are seven workshops that make traditional handmade knifes. What originally was an old forge of shepherds, today is a living heritage that produces knives for the best restaurants and foodies.
At thousand meters of height, between green meadows we find Laguiole. Located in the north of the region of Aveyron, this village is a delight for the senses. And, in addition to a bucolic landscape and stone houses with slate roofs, Laguiole is a benchmark of slow food. Here you will find the Bras restaurant, a 3 Michelin star, a place where we can find regional products and a magic of nouvelle cuisine. Aubrac cows, Laguiole cheese, Aligot or chestnuts are an important part of the local cuisine, present in most restaurants and shops in the area.
But among the regional products of Laguiole, we can find knives and pocket-knives. In a rural life, they are an essential tool in day-to-day work. Therefore, since ancient times, this area has produced knives and pocket-knives to supply the local demand. Part of that past is closely related to Spain. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, in a context in which Aubrac had little work, some young people immigrated to Andalusia to learn how the knives were made. There they adopted the technique and returned to France to perfect it. In fact, the traditional pocket-knive of Albacete and Laguiole still retain some similarity.
The specialization and perfection of the manufacturing techniques, as well as the orientation to other national markets, has allowed developing Laguiole knives with an exquisite design and a protected brand, recognized all over the world. The size of a small bee located in the union between the leaf and the handle is common in all the Laguile blades.
A true gourmet jewel
The Laguiole knife is one of the most difficult to make. Its folding blade mechanism forces forging different parts separately and then bonding them together for a perfect assembly. It is a slow process that requires millimetric precision, but only then do you get a single knife. This also allows for small-scale work and adjustment to the needs of the market. Thus, today we can find traditional knives with handle of wood or shaft, avant-garde design, collector, precious metals, exclusive materials (mammoth ivory or a piece of the Eiffel Tower), personalized … Each forge thus gets a hole in the market, without competing solely in price.
Another example of the adaptation to the market of this handmade product is the variety of steels. Currently, the three most common are: carbon steel (XC75), the original although has a tendency to oxidize; the high-end stainless steel (12c27 and 14c28) and the damask. In this way, together with the design and type of handle, it is possible to offer a wide range of measures and finishes, suitable for all types of customers. For cattlemen, restaurants (there is a whole range of utensils for the table), adventurers or collectors … each knife is unique and is manufactured with care and care to be 100% functional.
Among so much variety, it is difficult to decide. One of the best ways may be through the senses. The smell of the ebony or sandalwood, the touch of the handle between the fingers, the details of the decoration of the blade… Each workshop and each store offers us a privileged sensory scene where impressions can help us in our choice.
Tradition and know-how
If you like crafts as well as us, you cannot miss the guided views of the forges. Most of Laguiole’s workshops open their doors to make their products and methods known.
If you only have time for one, we recommend the Forge de Honoré Durand. It is a family forge, with a lot of charm, where we can see the best knives of Laguiole are made. The entrance is free and you can see in the first person the tasks of polishing and finishing of the knives or entering the interior of the factory. In addition, they have a museum that collects a myriad of traditional tools used in a forge. His shop is one of the most complete, where we can find from traditional knives to cutlery, and also collector’s pieces, scissors or sharpening stones. Definitely a must stop for all handmade lovers 🙂
If you liked this post and want to know more about Aveyron, don’t not our post on another of the typical products of this region of France: Roquefort cheese.