The valley of factories, our headquarters

Where is the Valley of Factories?

The Valley of Factories is located in the city of Thiers, in the Puy-de-Dôme department, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, France. Thiers is renowned for its long tradition in the manufacture of knives and cutting tools. The Valley of Factories specifically refers to the area where factories and cutlery workshops are concentrated along the rivers that run through the city, mainly the Durolle and the Dore. It is in this valley that the cutlery industry that made Thiers famous developed, earning it the title of the French capital of cutlery.

Why "Vallée des usines" (Valley of Factories) ?

The region of Thiers, France, is often referred to as the "Valley of Factories" because of its industrial history and the concentration of factories and workshops located there. Here are some reasons why this appellation is used:

Concentration of manufacturing industries: Over the centuries, Thiers has become a major production center in the French cutlery industry. The local rivers, including the Durolle and the Dore, provided an essential source of hydraulic energy to power the mills and cutlery workshops. This concentration of manufacturing industries in the region gave rise to the appellation "Valley of Factories."

Industrial heritage: The Valley of Factories bears witness to the industrial history of Thiers, marked by the development and prosperity of the cutlery industry. For centuries, the region has been the cradle of quality knife production, helping to forge Thiers' reputation as the French capital of cutlery.

Symbol of industrialization: The "Valley of Factories" evokes the era of industrialization and mass production that characterized the economic development of Thiers and its surroundings. This appellation recalls the importance of industry in the economic and social life of the region over time.

In summary, the name "Valley of Factories" is used to refer to the Thiers region because of its rich industrial history, concentration of factories and workshops, and its legacy in manufacturing, particularly in the field of cutlery.

What is its history?

The Valley of Factories in Thiers is a historic site located in the city of Thiers, France. Thiers is famous for its cutlery industry dating back several centuries.

The Valley of Factories is the birthplace of this industry, where local rivers provided the hydraulic energy needed to power mills and cutlery workshops. Over the years, the Valley of Factories became the center of renowned knife production, and it still retains a significant concentration of cutlery businesses today.

This region has also witnessed significant evolution in manufacturing techniques and product diversification. In addition to its historical and economic importance, the Thiers Valley of Factories is also a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors interested in traditional craftsmanship, industrial history, and the natural beauty of the region.

The history of the Thiers Valley of Factories is intimately linked to the evolution of the cutlery industry in the region. Here is an overview of its development over time:

Medieval origins: Thiers has a long tradition of knife and cutting tool production dating back to the Middle Ages. The first artisans settled along the rivers to take advantage of the hydraulic energy needed to operate mills and forges.

19th-century boom: In the 19th century, Thiers' cutlery industry experienced considerable growth, fueled by improvements in production techniques and the expansion of trade. The Valley of Factories became the center of this activity, with a significant concentration of factories and workshops along the Durolle and Dore rivers.

Modern technologies: Over time, Thiers' cutlery industry benefited from technological advances, such as the introduction of steam-powered machinery and new forging techniques. This increased productivity and product quality.

Urban development: The growth of the industry attracted a large workforce to the region, leading to significant urban development. New industrial neighborhoods developed along the rivers, forming what is now known as the Valley of Factories.

Contemporary evolution: In the 20th century, Thiers' cutlery industry faced economic and competitive challenges, but it managed to survive thanks to the quality of its products and its reputation. Today, the Valley of Factories remains a symbol of Thiers' industrial history.

The 1950s: electricity arrived and the use of hydraulic energy became optional, many cutlery companies chose to leave the valley to settle in artisanal or industrial areas that were easier to access: the place was then slowly but surely abandoned.

In summary, the Valley of Factories in Thiers is the result of centuries of industrial history, marked by the development and prosperity of the cutlery industry in the region.

The Durolle

The Durolle is a river located in the Puy-de-Dôme department, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, France. It originates in the Livradois mountains, near the town of Celles-sur-Durolle, and flows through several cities and villages, including Thiers, the capital of French cutlery.

The Durolle played a crucial role in the economic development of the region by providing a source of hydraulic energy for local industries, including cutlery. Over the centuries, many mills were built along its banks to harness this energy, contributing to making Thiers a major center for the production of knives and cutting tools.

Today, the Durolle remains a characteristic feature of Thiers' landscape, and it is often associated with the region's industrial history and cutlery tradition. It also offers leisure opportunities, such as fishing and hiking along its banks. Preserving the water quality of the Durolle is also an important concern for local authorities, to protect this valuable ecosystem.

Why "Creux de l'Enfer"?

The name "Creux de l'Enfer" probably comes from the topography of the place, which is an old hollow formed by erosion in the rock. Over time, this place was used for industrial purposes, but it was transformed into a space dedicated to contemporary art in the 1990s.

The art center regularly hosts temporary exhibitions featuring local, national, and international contemporary artists working in a variety of mediums such as painting, sculpture, video, installation, and performance.

The Creux de l'Enfer also organizes events, conferences, and artist residencies, contributing to the cultural vitality of the region. In addition to its artistic program, the Creux de l'Enfer offers visitors the opportunity to discover a carefully rehabilitated historic site, blending industrial past and contemporary creativity. It is a must-visit place for art enthusiasts visiting the Thiers region.

The Creux de l'Enfer is a cultural venue located in Thiers, France. It is a contemporary art center that occupies a former industrial site, offering a unique setting for the exhibition of modern artworks.

Fontenille Pataud and the valley of factories

Fontenille Pataud cutlery is a family business located in the Valley of Factories in Thiers, France. Founded in 1929, this cutlery is renowned for its craftsmanship and the quality of its knives.

We're often told, "That's good, your cutlery has stayed in the valley!" and we always reply, "That's not true, but we're the first to come back."

Historically located on the heights of the city, our former workshop became too small. In 2021, we made the decision to move to this historic and emblematic place in order to offer more space and therefore comfort to our team and thus continue the development of our company by gaining visibility because many visitors pass through the valley.

Fontenille Pataud perpetuates the cutlery tradition of the region by producing a wide range of knives, including pocket knives, table knives, hunting knives, and kitchen knives. The artisans of the company use traditional manufacturing techniques, while also integrating modern technologies to ensure high-quality products.

The Valley of Factories in Thiers is an iconic location for the French cutlery industry, and Fontenille Pataud is an integral part of this heritage. As a renowned knife manufacturer, the company attracts knife enthusiasts from around the world, who appreciate the quality, design, and traditional craftsmanship of its products.

A visit to the Fontenille Pataud cutlery in the Valley of Factories offers visitors the opportunity to discover up close the knife-making process, as well as the history and tradition behind each piece. It is a rewarding experience for those interested in artisanal cutlery and traditional French craftsmanship.

The renaissance of the valley of factories

The renaissance of the Valley of Factories in Thiers, France, is an ambitious project aimed at revitalizing this iconic region, once at the heart of the cutlery industry, into a dynamic place where contemporary art and culture can thrive. Within this initiative, several key actors have contributed to breathing new life into the Valley of Factories.

One of these actors is the CCPAC (Center for Creation and Promotion of Contemporary Arts), an organization dedicated to promoting contemporary art in all its forms. The CCPAC has played an essential role in transforming the Valley of Factories into a dynamic cultural center, organizing art exhibitions, artist residencies, and cultural events that draw attention to this historic region.

A key element of this renaissance is the Croix de Fer, a former industrial building located in the heart of the Valley of Factories, which has been renovated and transformed into a versatile space dedicated to contemporary art. The Croix de Fer now houses art galleries, artist studios, creation spaces, and exhibition installations, offering a meeting and exchange place for artists and art enthusiasts from the region and beyond.

In this context, Fontenille Pataud, a renowned cutlery company in the region, has also played an important role in contributing to the valorization of local craftsmanship through its commitment to the cutlery tradition.

Together, these different actors have contributed to revitalizing the Valley of Factories, transforming a former industrial center into a vibrant place where art, culture, and craftsmanship meet and flourish, creating a new identity for this historic region... to be continued

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Fontenille Pataud was founded in 1929 and quickly became recognized as a manufacturer of high-end knives.