Aubrac in the South of the Auvergne is one of the most impressing regions in France. The parsimony and its beauty is fascinating. Its cuisine has an excellent reputation all over the country. In the beginning of the 19th century the people were living from agriculture and livestock breeding. Sheeps were breeded and also little wild cattle with enormous horns.
The latter being very popular because of their excellent meat. But also the cheese was much asked for, as e.g. the “Roquefort” from Millau and the “LAGUIOLE” a mountain cheese from Laguiole. Thus trade developed as a new source of income for the inhabitants. The inhabitants of the Auvergne traded among other goods with wine and coal. This made them travel through all of France and to Spain.
At the end of the 19th century the region experienced a rural exodus and Aveyron became a poor region. In their search for work the people moved to the bigger cities and to foreign countries. The people from this region who were driven away by poverty were called “Les Bougnats”. Still today the coal merchants in Paris are called “Les Bougnats”. The production of knives disappeared from its original village and was transferred to the industrial regions around Thiers.
The fugitives did not have much lugguage but one thing did they all take with them, their LAGUIOLE, which was passed on from generation to generation. Although times were difficult for the people, through them the LAGUIOLE became known all over France and beyond its borders and everywhere it was in great demand. In the course of time it became the “Passeport Auvergnat”, a sign and identification mark for all living abroad.
Wherever people met owning a LAGUIOLE they felt being among friends- bread and cheese were shared and people helped each other and exchanged information.
Because of the good wine and the excellent cuisine of the Auvergne many people from this region started working in the catering trade when arriving in the big cities. They opened up restaurants and bistros. When visiting back home they had their new LAGUIOLE fitted with cork-screws by the blacksmiths.
In the course of time this knife became more and more variable and for the bourgeoisie it was often made out of precious material.
Until the seventies and eighties of the 20th century the region Aubrac was deserted and poor. Due to systematic promoting measures taken by the department and also because of the work of the manufactory FORGE DE LAGUIOLE, which gained international apprecation and design awards, it was possible to create new jobs.
For some visitors who still remember the Aubrac from these times it is difficult to recognize the flourishing region of today.