Tiago Pereira

I got my first Opinel pocket knife at age seven—the age of reason, my parents must have thought—during a summer vacation in the French Alps. Each member of my family had one, and they got plenty of use during mountain hikes: my father’s to carve intricate pattern on his walking stick, my mother’s to butter the baguette sandwiches when we stopped for the midday picnic.

I was thrilled to get my own, a tiny, child-size replica of the classic Savoyard pocket knife, with its glossy wood handle, its pointy steel blade, and the rotating ring that locked it all into place.

Twenty-five years later, this miniature Opinel is much too small for me to use, but I have a grownup’s version now, which I’m sure to take with me on any walk in the wild, and especially on mushroom foraging trips: not to brag, but that Opinel has seen its share of porcini.

Kaspar Metz

Opinel pocket knives make for wonderful gifts, too: they’re not at all expensive, they’ll last a lifetime, and they’ll accompany the recipient on their outdoor adventures—even if it’s just an improvised picnic in the park. Just be sure to have them give you a coin (any small piece of change will do) in exchange for the knife: French superstition states that if you give away a knife without getting anything in return, you risk severing the friendship.

Related Links:

  • Order Opinel knives online from the States here or on Amazon
  • For fantastic recipes and foodie inspiration, check out Clotilde’s great blog
  • Clotilde is also mad for Laguiole pocket knives, the other famous French knife.
  • Making a trip to Paris? Pick up her book, Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris, and let her guide you through her all-time favorite Paris food experiences.

Written by Clotilde Dusoulier for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in London, Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.


Clotilde Dusoulier

Clotilde Dusoulier is the 32-year-old Parisienne behind the award-winning food blog Chocolate & Zucchini. She is a regular contributor to food and travel magazines in France, the US and the UK, and she is the author of the cookbook CHOCOLATE & ZUCCHINI and of CLOTILDE’S EDIBLE ADVENTURES IN PARIS, a book on Paris restaurants and food shops. She is currently working on a new cookbook about vegetables, to be published in the spring of 2013. She lives in Montmartre with her boyfriend Maxence, and her sourdough starter Philémon


  1. Bonjour! Was wondering if the Opinel pictured is the #10? And what sort of wood is the handle? Will be in Paris this month for a week and looking to get an Opinel for picnics (cutting baguettes and cheeses). Merci!

  2. Just a reminder, the Opinel blades are sharp carbon steel, not stainless . They must be cleaned after use or they will rust.Expect coloration of the blade.It is characteristic of carbon steel.

  3. @Deanne: I was taught that the right size of pocket knife for your hand is one whose handle (wooden part only) is slightly longer than the width of your palm, so it fits comfortably. Hope that helps!

  4. I’ve been wanting one of these for a while, but can’t tell which one(or two) to buy! Any advise on the size (model) to get? I would probably use it as you do, to take foraging or use in the garden. I would probably also use it at picnics. Thanks.

  5. I couldn’t agree more about the usefulness of those little knives you can get at French markets. I never thought of them as presents before – perfect!

  6. Hey – did you see this on The Kitchn today? Very à propos!


  7. @Roger: You should be aware that in France, knives are classified as weapons — even pocket knives such as the Opinel — and as such are submitted to a specific regulation that states it is forbidden to carry it around (i.e. have it with you outside your home) without a legitimate reason to do so, such as going to a picnic, going foraging or hunting, etc. The chances of getting arrested are slim, but still, I would advise against carrying your Opinel with you at all times.

  8. Since I’ve lived in France over the last 10 years I’ve got into the habit of carrying my Opinel around with me. This is a habit I would not consider in my wildest dreams if I still lived in England. So close, yet so far.

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