Laguiole Fontenille Pataud

Le Thiers® family in video

Our friend Stefan Schmalhaus credit us of an exceptional video about Le Thiers® knives family with lock-back system, to watch now. Please note that the Thiers® Pocket will be available on our website in January:

Merci Stefan 😉

Posted in Couteaux Fontenille-Pataud

The Laguiole XS made of ironwood

Each region of France has a singular history, a cultural heritage and traditions. We can notice that the knife is usually part of this ensemble. At the beginning it was a working tool which was the extension of the hand. The knife has integrated and spread the local habits and life of the inhabitants of a region.
The legend of the Laguiole knife is a nice example of this transmission because this knife was created in the Massif Central region and more particularly in the Aubrac region. It enabled the region to be worldwide well known and is still contributing to this recognition.

Laguiole XS with lock-back system

laguiole XS knife handmade in France
The small Laguiole knives have always been neglected by the manufacturers. They point them out as “ladies or children knives”. The quality is usually mediocre.
The Laguiole XS knife made of iron wood by Fontenille Pataud is the smallest knife we offer. The Laguiole XS knife 9 cm will be discreet in your suit’s pocket or in your handbag.
In a few years, the Laguiole XS became the celebrity of the small Laguiole knives segment thanks to its precision that allows an easy opening and closing. The Laguiole XS knife 9cm made of ironwood offers a safe use because the blade is locked when open. This knife is perfect for those who want a discreet but efficient knife.
To manufacture the handle of our Laguiole knives, we select our raw material carefully. All materials used in the fabrication of our Laguiole XS knife are first choice in order to satisfy our customers while using their Laguiole XS knife made of ironwood
The Laguiole XS knife has an ironwood handle. The ironwood is a very strong wood, very pretty when polished, that can go from beige to dark brown. It has some tiger-striped marbling and golden reflections. It is one of the heaviest and densest wood: it doesn’t float even when dry. It is generally centenary: this wood is very rare and precious that can be sculpted when it had a natural death and has dried on site for 3 years. It comes from the USA.

The Laguiole XS made of ironwood : a little treat in the pocket!

Posted in Couteaux Fontenille-Pataud

The gentian

The yellow gentian grows on the Aubrac plateau between 800 and 1300 meters above the see level. It can be 2 meters high this is why its nickname is “the green skyscraper”. It takes 20 years to the plant to have its adult size. Some pretty little yellow flowers appear after 8 or 10 years of leaving and flowers every two years. However, it is the roots, called rhizome, that are used for several things: they are thick and can be 1 meter long and weight 5 kg.
In order to harvest the rhizomes, we call on a man cold “gentianaire” or “gençainaire” in the local dialect. The roots are deeply buried in the ground and it is a gargantuan task to extract them from the earth. It can only be made by hand.
They start the extraction in June until October. To collect, the farmer uses to specific tools :
– A pickaxe, called “anchor” that was used as a lever to unearth the rhizomes
– Nowadays, they use a steel garden fork that is at least 12,5 kg. They use to call it the “Evil garden fork”
This fork is narrow and the tine is made of two long teeth that are straight or slightly curved. They are usually 1 meter long. The teeth have been reinforced in order to make easier the removing and to resist the pressure due to the roots extraction. On the fork you can also find a footboard or two toe-clips on which the farmer jump in order to sink the teeth in the ground. A great “gentianaire” can remove from 200 to 300 kg of rhizome per day using only its arms strength.
The harvest of the day is placed into big jute bags that allow air to enter in order to avoid fermentation. Afterwards, they clean the roots with their Laguiole knife. They have to work very patiently and carefully to withdraw the soil and cut the buds.
The roots cargo is delivered to the cooperative where it is going to:
– Be macerated and distilled. Then the liquor and aperitifs can be produced. Gentian is also used to produce local drinks in other countries as in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria…
– Be dried in glasshouses for 3 weeks et sold during winter to created pharmaceutical and herbalist products
The gentian root is used since Antiquity because of its digestives, tonic, purgative, refreshing, fortifying (etc.) virtues… It is on the medicinal plants list. It is also used to stimulate appetit.
As the « gentianaires » of Aubrac, have a look to the size of the yellow gentian, then you will know the height of the snow during the next winter.

Posted in Couteaux Fontenille-Pataud

Aubrac : a village perched on the plateau

Aubrac is a village in the municipality of Saint Chely d’Aubrac, in the Aveyron department, France. It is located on the way to Santiago de Compostela. That small village was built in the XIII century thanks to a cloistered hospital called “La domerie d’Aubrac”. The name stayed through the years. In French this name usually means “a high location”. Aubrac is 1310 meters above the see level and is the highest village of Aveyron and one of the highest villages of the Massif Central. 20 kilometres away you can also find the village called Laguiole. The Laguiole knife is called after the village since 1829.

In 1120 the monks built the monastery and the hospital in order to help the pilgrims in this wild region. In 1953 the monastery was completed with a 30 meters high tower intended to fight against the brigands. They used to come all over the region. The tower also intended to fight the exaction of the English: the tower is still today called the English Tower.

From the cloistered hospital we can nowadays see:
– The English tower
– Some buildings of the ancient hospital
– The Church Notre-Dame-des-pauvres

The bell tower of the church accommodates a “Maria” bell also called “Bell of the lost”. This area is favourable for loneliness. Moreover, the climate can be very harsh especially because of the wind from the north: they bring snow during the entire winter. The pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela could find board and lodging in the welcoming place thanks to the ring bell.

During the 1890, Dr Saunal advised patients to do some sojourn in high places in order to cure some pulmonary diseases. In 1902, Aubrac inaugurates a sanatorium where the therapy clients could enjoy an “air therapy” and a special milk called “gaspe” in Occitan. This milk is made from Laguiole cheese.

In the middle of the XXth century they stopped the cure and a big rural exodus happened. In the meantime, the traditional production decreased fast until it stopped. The commercial activity has been stopped at this period.

On their way to Santiago de Compostela the pilgrims come from Nasbinals and they walk along the pastures on the high plateau of Aubrac. They use the ancient ways called « drailles » where men and herds used to walk.

In Aubrac there is no corner shop. Tourism is the most important commercial activity nowadays. Many tourists come in the Aubrac region to visit a village called Laguiole. Laguiole is known since decades for its famous cutlery. The Laguiole knife is used by sheperds since 200 years. A big celebration happens at the beginning of May when the herds go from the village to the plateau: it’s called transhumance.

In 2000, the trade unions of the municipalities of Aubrac created « The House of the Aubrac ». The goal is to present the Plateau of Aubrac through exhibitions, scenographies, activities… Next to this place you can find a botanic garden in which there are about 650 vegetal species. They can all be found in the natural habitat of the region Aubrac.

Next to the village Aubrac, we can find a stone cross called “Cross of the 3 bishops”. It is located at the intersection of 3 departments (Aveyron, Cantal and Lozère) and 3 regions (Auvergne, Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc Roussillon). Aubrac is located in the region of Aveyron, as is Laguiole and they are both emblematic villages of the region. However, the manufacture of the Laguiole knife is shared between Thiers in Auvergne and Laguiole.

Posted in Couteaux Fontenille-Pataud

Cheese from Aubrac : the Laguiole

On the plateau of the Aubrac, as in all the mountainous regions, the shepherds used domestics animals for farm work as well as pantry because they provided milk, cheese and meat. However, milk was very seasonal because milking and calf suckling was possible only when there was plenty of grass. In order to store the milk, the shepherds created the Laguiole cheese.

The manufacture of the Laguiole knife started in the earliest Antiquity but the monks from the cloistered hospital of Aubrac (called “La domerie d’Aubrac”) made it well-known. They transformed the forest into pastureland for summer, selected the bovine race that became later the Aubrac, develop the production of the Laguiole cheese and invent the famous dish called “aligot” (cheese and mash potatoes). Those new pastures are perfect for the herds, their milk and the Laguiole cheese production. The French revolution chased away the monks but they passed down the knowledges about the cheese production to the “buronniers” (local farmers). They work in their “buron” (house dedicated for the Laguiole cheese production) from May 25th to October 13th each year.
From 1897, the cheese producers created a farming and cheese trade union in Laguiole. In 1940 it became a defense and improvement union trade, they also own a quality label.

From the beginning of the XXth century, the fabrication and number of “burons” decreased. At the end of the 50’s there are only 55 “burons” instead of 300 and they produced 25 tons of Laguiole cheese instead of 700 tons at the beginning of the century. In order to relaunch the production of the Laguiole cheese, young farmers created in 1960 a cooperative called “The young mountain cooperative”. It helps making small farmers structures profitable. The cooperative helps them investing on new installations, modernize their equipment and the reunions of new livestock. Nowadays, the cooperation is collecting nearly all the milk of the region and is the first producer of Laguiole cheese. From the beginning the ambition was to create activity in the region while staying close to the tradition. In 1961, the Laguiole cheese obtains a egional label (“Appelation d’Origine Contrôlée” – AOC) that protects the product and the consumer. With this distinction, the Aubrac region was saved and started again to grow.

The Laguiole cheese is a pressed paste cheese, uncooked, produced only with whole milk from Aubrac cows or French Simmental cows. The milk is produced in Aubrac, a high plateau located between 800 and 1400 meters above the sea level.
The Laguiole cheese is a big cylinder weighting between 20 and 50 kg. It is affined at least 4 months in a cave. The rind is thick, white at the beginning and becomes amber-brown during the maturing. The paste color is between white and yellow. The consistence can be described as smooth and firm but also as creamy and fondant.
Nowadays, the cooperative is producing about 700 tons of cheese per year.

Posted in Couteaux Fontenille-Pataud