France is as proud of its artisans as its artists, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the knife-making town of Thiers. Blades have been fashioned here for six centuries, in the early days by harnessing the power of the Durolle river. Thiers still sharpens around 70% of French knives, and more than 100 knife producers continue to operate in town.
In Thiers' historic centre, narrow stone lanes are still strung with weather-beaten workshop signs and every imaginable shape of blade glints from shop windows. The charming old town, with an excellent museum, knife-making courses and old-timey restaurants, is deserving of a detour.