October 22, 2015, posted by Michelle – Le Monsieur and I visited the small town of Thiers today. It’s an hour and a half drive west of Lyon, so it’s an easy day trip. Thiers has been the knife making capital of France since the 14th century. Knife shops are everywhere in the old city which also features centuries old half-timbered houses. I visited the knife museum there which included a knife making demonstration. Photos from top left: Hôtel du Pirou (15th century), hand painted knife catalog, knife collection in the museum, pictureseque knife shop, knives displayed in shop window, wooden fork and spoon displayed in the museum, Laguiole pocket knife.
Photos below: demonstration of the old grinding stone method of grinding the blade’s cutting edge. The grinders used to lay down on a plank which gave them extra strength and enabled them to work longer and faster. These men worked 12 hours a day like this! See that little stuffed dog? I can explain what he represents. The water from the grinding stone came directly from the Durolle river, so it was freezing cold. The men’s hands were constantly wet and cold plus water, as well as dust, would splash up in their faces. Dogs were trained to lie down on the worker’s backs and legs to keep them warmer – they were kind of like fuzzy hot water bottles. See it for yourself, I don’t make this stuff up. Continuing on with the photos, I was happy with my purchases: two cheese knives and a Laguiole pocket knife; a multicolored knife display; and Le Coin des Hasards half-timbered house spans the street and links two other buildings.
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