Follow along as absinthe comes to life in the Jura

Absinthe's history is absolutely fascinating. A wildly popular drink in the 19th century, this liqueur has reinvented itself in modern days in a plethora of forms. These many types of absinthe can be found throughout the streets and in the distilleries of Pontarlier, in the Jura Mountains. Follow along with us and take flight with the Green Fairy!

Absinthe, the flower of the fields

Before becoming a beverage with its trademark glittering green hue, absinthe is a plant with long stems crowned with yellow flowers. To see it in its natural habitat, head to the Ferme de l’absinthe, in the village of Granges-Narboz, a few kilometers from Pontarlier in the Jura Mountains. In 2001, the establishment, initially oriented towards milk production, had the idea of bringing this plant with its devilish reputation into the 21st century. Within this dairy farm, whose operation you can also tour, the secrets of this ancestral know-how are yours for the exploration.

La Ferme de l’absinthe (External link)

A convoluted ritual

Once harvested, the absinthe lands in the stills of the distilleries. In these large copper vats, the plant transforms and exudes all of its aromas. In Pontarlier, the Guy Distillery opens its doors for visitors to discover this crucial stage in the production of a liqueur with incredibly balanced flavors. In this artisanal distillery (the last in the region, founded in 1890 and run by the same family for four generations), you can admire 100-year old stills. In addition to these institutions of yesteryear, new arrivals have joined the ranks of absinthe enthusiasts. The Bourgeois Distillery is an excellent example of the latter. Anne-Sophie and Arnaud, its founders, produce an organic absinthe made from plants grown in Arçon, a small village near Pontarlier.

Distillerie Guy (External link)
Distillerie Bourgeois (External link)

Absinthe according to the rules of art

At the Maison de l'Absinthe, located in Môtiers (a few kilometers from Pontarlier), immerse yourself in the history of this legendary beverage. Posters, utensils, absinthe fountains and other period objects testify to the different uses over time of la grande absinthe (Artemisia absinthium). Very popular at the beginning of the 19th century, then accused of driving folks mad and therefore banned in 1915, absinthe waited until 2011 before its production was authorized again. Pontarlier absinthe even obtained the label d'indication géographique (Geographical Indication Label) for spirits in August 2019, issued by the European Commission. In Pontarlier, you can experience the tumultuous past of the drink at the town's municipal museum.

Maison de l’Absinthe (External link)
Musée municipal de Pontarlier (External link)

Gourmet walk through Pontarlier

Fiercly proud representatives of the regional cultural heritage, traders and producers in Pontarlier are keen to promote this local treasure. To experience the multiple uses of the favorite flower of the Jura mountains, you just have to walk through the shops in the streets of Pontarlier. At the Crèmerie Petite, you can buy cancoillotte with a touch of absinthe, combining the smoothness of this soft cheese with the flavor of aniseed. At La Charmille bakery, during Absinthiades week in September, absinthe is incorporated in delicious breads to awaken your taste buds. As for the Pfaadt bakery, the green fairy is married with chocolate in this precious drink sold here. Finally, ice cream lovers will be able to taste an absinthe version of their sweet sin, created by the pastry chef-glacier Ehrard.

Crèmerie Petite (External link)
Boulangerie La Charmille (External link)
Boulangerie Pfaadt (External link)
Pâtissier-glacier Ehrard (External link)

Getting to the Jura Mountains