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July 07, 2021 3 min read


It’s no secret that we’re proud of our French roots here at Opinel. We’re French through and through: Our company originated in the French Alps, and today, our headquarters are still nestled at the base of the mountains. And just as Opinel loves France, France loves Opinel; over the more than 130 years of our existence, Opinel pocket knives have become a mainstay in French art, food, culture, and adventure. 

So, as we prepare to celebrate Bastille Day — French National Day— we’re taking a moment to reflect on just a few of the ways in which Opinel appears in French culture.

Opinel is in the French dictionary.

We earned our spot in the Larousse dictionary in 1989, alongside brands like Bic, Frigidaire, and Solex. Opinel is defined in the French dictionary as a “folding knife featuring a wooden haft with a groove in which the blade is inserted when the knife is closed.” 

Opinel definition in the French dictionary

We’ve partnered with some of France’s most famous businesses and design houses. 

From Yves Saint Laurent to le coq Sportif and Colette Concept Store, we’ve teamed up with icons of French design and fashion to pair our knives with their looks. 

Opinel image of collaborations with YSL, Le Coq Sportif and Collette

In the pocket of famous French chef Paul Bocuse.

Paul Bocuse, who died in 2018 at the age of 91, was considered the most celebrated French chef of the postwar era. In his tall white toque and crisp chef’s jacket, he paved the way for the the “nouvelle cuisine” in France — modernizing French cooking in the 60s and 70s and earning international acclaim in the process.

“For as long as I can remember, my grandfather lived with an Opinel in his pocket,” said the great chef. “I always have one tucked in my pocket! When traveling the world with the Alpine culinary delegation, Maurice Opinel, a true gentleman, was with us and his knives were always on the tables. His grandfather was an incredible man who invented an amazing object. One day, I was in Tokyo and a Japanese airport security agent said in French, ‘You have an Opinel in your bag.’ He had recognized it! I took it out and gave it to him in exchange for a coin, as the tradition suggests. I’ve always been a fan of house Opinel.” - P. Bocuse, Au Fil de L'Histoire.

Image of Paul Bocuse and Maurice Opinel

Opinel is mentioned by name in many classic works of French literature.

It’s rare that a French child makes his or her way through school without readingFirst on the Rope (Premier de Cordée) by Roger Frison-Roche; this classic French novel about climbing in the Alps is a mainstay in French schools. Not only does Opinel get a shout out in the novel, it’s said that Frison-Roche — a celebrated Savoyard alpine guide and mountaineer — never made an ascent without carrying his trusty Opinel. 

First on the Rope

Other French titles referencing Opinel:
Frederic Dard, San Antonio - "Appelez-moi cherie" (1972), Maison du Fleuve noir

Daniel Penac - "Messieurs les enfants" (1997), Gallimard

Dennis Tillinac - "Maison de famille" ( 1987), Robert Laffont

Jacques Lanzmann - " Le tetard" (1976), Editions du Rocher

Paul Guimard - "Les choses de la vie" (1967), Denoel

Opinel is a partner for the Tour de France.

Since 2017, Opinel, in partnership with the Le Tour de France, has produced exclusive limited edition No.08 knives to celebrate each year’s Tour. The annual multi-stage cycling race is a point of national pride in France, and an important cultural event in Europe and beyond. Millions line the route to cheer on cyclists as they cover a grueling 2,200 miles during the 23-day-event. Part of course wends its way through the Alps, not far from the ancestral home of Opinel. Our Opinel special editions have celebrated the history of the tour and the beauty of cycling.

Opinel and Tour de France collaboration image


We show up in French music,including Marc Lavoine’s “C'est ça la France,” Renau’s “Laisse béton," and Julien Doré’ "On attendra l'hiver." Take a listen for “Opinel” shoutouts in all three songs! 

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4 Responses

Patrick Wanzeck
Patrick Wanzeck

May 10, 2022

My wife just purchased one of the folding knives for me as a gift. It’s a very nice knife as a chef I very much appreciate a well made knife. A light polish on the edge and you can shave with it. Very impressed with the quality and design very comfortable in my hand.

Roger Baty
Roger Baty

May 10, 2022

These knives are addictive and I always accept a coin in return!

Marc Shain
Marc Shain

January 31, 2023

I have #9 opinel. When were these made.

Alan Nemeth
Alan Nemeth

January 31, 2023

The French oboe reed knife, Vitry, seems to have gone out of business some time ago. Perhaps F.Loree oboe factory could advise Opinel on making the once beloved double hollow ground reed knife again?

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