What's a Laguiole, anyway?

Posted by Laurence Bertone on

Laguiole (pronounced LA-YULL, or LAI-YULL) is a village in south-central France, in an area known as the region of Aubrac. Geologically, the Aubrac is a high, volcanic plane, ranging from 3,000 to almost 5,000 feet in altitude. It's known for four things: cows, sheep, cheese, and knives.

Hundreds of years ago the local craftsmen in Aubrac developed a peasant knife called the Capuchadou that the cowherds and shepherds carried with them as they followed their herds and flocks in the high summer grazing lands from May through October. Many of the herdsmen would travel to Spain in the winter months (the "off season" as it were) to work as pit-sawyers (basically human-powered saw mills). While there they discovered an arabo-hispanic knife called the Navaja, which they brought back with them when they returned to Aubrac in the Spring. The cutlers in Laguiole blended the Capuchadou with the Navaja to create a folding knife that became known as the Laguiole. The Laguiole knife became famous for its beauty, quality and utility.

 

In the late 1800s some of the herdsmen of Aubrac began to travel to Paris in the winter to work as waiters in cafés, and they asked the local cutlers to make a version of the Laguiole knife that had a corkscrew on it as well as a cutting blade.

Laguiole Knife with Corkscrew

 Unfortunately the craftsmen of Aubrac never patented, copyrighted or protected the words "Laguiole" or "Laguiole Knife" the way that the vintners of the Champagne region very successfully protected the word "Champagne". As a result, there are many, many knives and corkscrews that are marketed as "Laguiole". The vast majority of them are mass-produced, cheap imitations of, at best, mediocre and, at worst, terrible quality. Some of them are made in France (particularly in the city of Thiers), but many are made in Asia.

Modern Laguiole Folding Knife

There are only a few cutlers left in Aubrac that make authentic, high quality, handmade knives and corkscrews. All of our Laguiole Cutlery is made near the village of Laguiole in the region of Aubrac, France.


Share this post



Newer Post →