Late in the 1700s there was massive turmoil in France. Revolution brought about by dissatisfaction not only with the crown but with the entire social structure. The peasant class rose up in a way that had never been seen before. They killed not just the aristocracy by land owners, civic officials, lawyers (who can blame them?), teachers, doctors, and anyone else viewed as being upper class.

People fled in droves. One Doctor named Pierre Ordinaire fled across the border into Couvet Switzerland. It wasn't far, just ten miles over the border from France. He set up a small medical practice there.

 

Storming of the Bastille

The Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 marked the height of the French Revolution.

Dr. Ordinaire learned about the restorative properties of the wormwood plant from local healers. He began incorporating wormwood into his own remedies, creating an elixir which included anise, wormwood, spinach, mint, and a number of other herbs and vegetables. After his death the recipe for his elixir passed to the Henroid sisters who later sold the recipe to Major Dubied who had a notion to sell Ordinaire's elixir as a tasty beverage as opposed to a curative. Dubied and his son in law, Henri Pernod began distilling and selling absinthe. The beverage was so popular that they soon expanded operations and moved across the border to Pontarlier in France to avoid the French import taxes.

Dubied and Pernod set up a small still which they used for experimenting and producing their first absinthe. This is a stove top still like the one they would have used. From the Per François museum in Môtiers.

Two weeks ago I went to Switzerland in search of the birthplace of absinthe. Couvet is credited as being the birthplace of absinthe. It is one of several small village in the Val-des-Travers. Isolated from the rest of the world by the alpine mountains it remains to this day a small village accessible only by a single country road. One bank, one general store, and not a McDonalds or Starbucks for a hundred Kilometers. The nearest major town is Bern.

I began my journey in Hanover, took a sleeper train to Bassel, in the north west of Switzerland and rented a car. Three hours of back-roads later I see the signs for the Val-de-Travers. My first stop is the Maison Pere François which is in Môtiers about two miles from Couvet.

 

Pere François has one of the biggest and most important private collections of absinthe paraphernalia in the world. He also makes a kick ass beverage.

Below is a collection of images taken at his museum.

 

If you like these images check out the Wallpaper page where you can download some very beautiful images from this museum.

Elixir du Pays des Fees is made at the Distillée artisanalement. Home of the Pere François museum

The top floor of the mason is used for drying wormwood plants which are used to make the absinthe.

 

 

Display of absinthe fountains.  
Antique water fountain used to prepare absinthe  
Display of ingredients used to make absinthe  
Pre-ban absinthe bottles.  
pre-ban bottle of Oxygenee absinthe  
Notice the green tinge to this glass. It actually glows in the dark. This glass is made using Uranium, the uranium makes it glow - it also makes it radioactive.  
 
Display case housing pre-ban glassware.  
Pre-Ban H. Amez Droz branded water carafe.
Spoon display.  
Pre-Ban absinthe spoons.  
pre-ban absinthe still.  
still used for making absinthe.  
still and cooling coils.  
Small alembic still.  
stove top still.  
Jammann absinthe poster in the tasting room of the museum.  
one of several pre-ban label displays.  
Pere Francois demonstrates how absinthe bottles where packed for shipping. Each bottle was wrapped in straw.  
After the tour Pere Francois pours a glass of absinthe. Here he is checking the louche before drinking.