Oak from the valley

The valley of factories

The valleys of the Thiers factories, nestled in the heart of the Auvergne mountains, offer a striking tableau of the region's industrial history. These valleys, once vibrant with the activity of metallurgical and cutlery industries, bear witness to human ingenuity and the tenacity of the artisans who shaped them.

Over the centuries, the Thiers valleys have been the cradle of renowned cutlery production, whose reputation extends far beyond French borders. The rivers that wind through these valleys fueled the wheels of mills, propelling the growth of this industry. Skilled craftsmen carefully crafted knives and tools, leveraging the abundant natural resources of the region.

Today, although industrial activity has declined, the valleys of the Thiers factories still retain their picturesque charm and historical significance. The old factories have been restored and repurposed into museums and cultural spaces, where visitors can delve into the fascinating past of this region. Contemporary artisans also perpetuate Thiers' cutlery heritage, producing exceptional pieces that blend tradition and innovation.

Exploring the valleys of the Thiers factories, one cannot help but be captivated by the beauty of these landscapes steeped in history. Every trail, every alley, still resonates with the echoes of the hard work of past generations. These valleys are more than just a testament to the industrial past; they are a reflection of a dynamic and resilient community, whose history continues to be written over time.

The Croix de Fer factory and its framework

In the heart of this valley, the Croix de Fer factory in Thiers is one of the jewels of the French cutlery industry. Founded in the 19th century, it takes its name from the river that flows nearby and which, at the time, powered the wheels of the mills used to make blades.

Initially a paper mill, the Croix de Fer factory played a central role in the development of the cutlery industry in Thiers, contributing to the town's worldwide reputation as a cutlery capital. Over the course of its history, it has been able to evolve and adapt to technological and economic change, while preserving the traditional craft techniques that have made its reputation.

Although this former paper mill has passed through many hands (Bizet Pradel cutlery factory, Wichard forge), it now stands out as a centre for contemporary artistic and cultural practices, in close collaboration with the Creux de l'enfer contemporary art centre in the Thiers factory valley.

One of the oldest parts of the Croix de fer factory features a magnificent oak roof structure dating back over 200 years. The efficiency and inventiveness of the work carried out at the time are remarkable, but so is the conservation of this wood.

oak of the valley

Our knives in oak from the valley

When Christophe Ménager, our neighbour and current owner of the Croix de Fer, came to see us and offered us wood from this two-hundred year old frame (taken during a restoration), we immediately imagined the possibilities it offered for the design of our knives.

Underneath its rustic appearance, we were delighted to discover the grain in the heart of this 200-year-old oak, worked by our ancestors. After a series of tests in our workshop, this remarkably well-preserved wood is easy to work with, allowing us to create knife handles with a superb patina.

The use of antique woods in cutlery adds a unique and authentic dimension to knives. These woods, from sources such as old timbers, salvaged furniture or old wine barrels, not only offer a distinctive aesthetic with their unique grains and patinas, but they also have a rich history that adds sentimental value to each piece. By transforming them into knife handles, artisans not only honour the past, but also create exceptional pieces of cutlery that combine tradition, character and durability.

And the icing on the cake is that this recycled and therefore sustainable wood comes from the heart of our factory valley, taking us back to the cutlery-making history of this unique place. The use of this local wood allows us to create knives that reflect the identity and character of our region. Each knife becomes a true symbol of the craft of cutlery and the heritage of Thiers, the French capital of cutlery.

oak of the valley knife

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