"Visit Thiers, capital city of knives!" Thiers by kokoryko

Thiers Travel Guide: 18 reviews and 98 photos

Everything you wanted to know about knives. . .

A knife is a very common tool or utensil we know since childhood, use every day, is so common in our environment, we almost never think about how? Since when? From where? What for? Who? Etc. . etc. . . . In fact “The” knife has a history, has a social meaning, is used in thousands of ways, is manufactured with different techniques, has tens and tens of purposes, and even has a “Capital City”, and this city is Thiers which I propose you to discover in this little VT page.
First, we are aware there are many other cities of knives in the world, like Yangjiang, in Guangdong province, China, Wazirabad, in Pakistan, Toledo in Spain, and even in France, I know (I mean, I was there!) two other cities of knives (Nogent en Bassigny and Nontron) and there are certainly many more, but Thiers is a city where the knife, the work of steel, is really a part of the city life, and in France, it is still “the reference” for knives and some other fine steelworks.
In this page, it will be about knives, but not only, and a bit of history related (or not) to knives, a hike in a “mill valley”, walks in the old city, beautiful houses, local customs, mountain landscapes. . . . making short, about a small city of deep central France, but with something special, a matter of half timbered houses and knives. . . . .

If you don’t buy a knife. . . .

Thiers is located on the Eastern border of Auvergne and Massif central, in France, at the northern tip of the Forez mountains; built on the western slopes of the Forez Mountains, Thiers is since the Middle Age a city dedicated to ironmongery, and as the old houses and mansions show, it was once a rich city of workers, salespeople, entrepreneurs. . . most living for, from, with. . . . iron and knives. Today, many shops have closed, the city is much more quiet than in the past and the shops remaining are more and more turned to tourism and souvenirs, but there are still lots of “real” knives and items to buy here; if you want a real good and beautiful (both qualities are possible on the same item!) for yourself or as a gift, here is the place where you can find it, and as you see on the picture, some shop keepers are quite imaginative in displaying what they sell. . . :)))! If you don’t buy a knife, you are very good at resisting all those tempting things. . . . .

Industry history. . . .

In the Durolle Valley are numerous abandoned factories, showing that the industry has moved far away from the valley and from artisanal or small scale work; higher in the valley was the mill valley, where numerous mills were working less than a century ago and it is possible to visit some old workshops, mills, and have an insight on how workers worked and lived here to make very common knives, but also some pieces of art. . .
Much of history is still visible in the streets and the museum of cutlery (Musée de la coutellerie) tells a lot about history, but also about manufacturing techniques, types of knives, explains how and for what knives were produced. . . . You will leave the museum, with the feeling you learned something. . . . . and you may look at some common steel objects with a different eye!

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:Knives. . . . . .
  • Last visit to Thiers: Aug 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (15)

Comments (8)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Nov 27, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    I've really enjoyed your informative page! It was an interesting read about the knives, never would have thought of them being made in what looks to be such a difficult way. The Museum sounds so interesting, and the old town looks just like one I would love to walk through!

    • kokoryko's Profile Photo
      Nov 27, 2012 at 2:15 PM

      My pocketknives come from here! Thanks for your visit in this little knife city Dee!

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Jul 31, 2009 at 3:45 PM

    Superb photos and enjoyable reading, Hermann - quite apart from being a great overview of the knife industry there. We loved the Auvergne, this makes me want to return.

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Jul 22, 2009 at 5:00 PM

    The eclectic architecture of Thiers appeals to me- This town has a lot to offer. Well written, informative & interesting tips, Hermann. Excellent pictures too.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Apr 1, 2009 at 3:00 PM

    Fine texts & photos, as always! The Cutlery Museum sounds fascinating, and it's great that you can also walk down (or up?) the valley and visit the old mills and the abandoned factories in the Hole of Hell.

  • Mar 31, 2009 at 12:45 AM

    I'm not sure if I am accurate, but this town looks as though a car would not be necessary to get around. If so, then that is absolutely delightful--there is nothing more rewarding than exploring a city by foot.

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Mar 27, 2009 at 11:39 AM

    What an amazing page on this beautiful little city. I was fascinated by your descriptions of Le musée de la coutellerie, the old Lyonnet mill and Vallée des Rouets. Loved the beautiful architecture and street/river scenes everywhere you looked!

  • robertgaz's Profile Photo
    Mar 23, 2009 at 5:46 PM

    These tips are so thick you could cut them with a knife ;)

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
    Mar 20, 2009 at 12:06 PM

    Thank you Hermann for showing on VT the French capital city of knives! The museum of knives must have been very interesting! Though Toledo is known more with its steel, haha!


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