The story of the absinthe distilleries of the town of Pontarlier in the Jura Mountains is closely linked to the very troubled history of this legendary aniseed beverage. From the first distillery opened in the early 19th century and the ban on absinthe in the 20th, to the recent green fairy revival, let us tell you the whole story before you go in search of these sites where aniseed aromas fill the air.

Alain DOIRE / Bourgogne-Franche-Comte Tourisme-BFC
Ups and downs

History of the absinthe distilleries

1805: the very first absinthe distillery opens in Pontarlier. This alcoholic drink is all the rage in the early 20th century and its production gives a real boost to the local economy.

The small town becomes the absinthe capital: in 1900, there are no less than 25 distilleries employing 3,000 people, nearly 38% of the population of Pontarlier!

The ban on absinthe in 1915 was a heavy blow for the distilleries. Most of them closed down, leaving only two which managed to survive by diversifying their production.

But the "green fairy" didn't give up that easily! In 2011, absinthe production was reauthorised and the distilleries that had continued to operate since their day of glory started producing it once again. New craft distilleries also opened...

Find out all about this powerful comeback by following the "route de l'absinthe", an itinerary dotted with discoveries through tastes and smells that will inevitably send all your senses reeling. Just click!  

The absinthe road
Tours, tastings and shopping!

Welcome to the distilleries

Your guide is the delicious aniseed smell that greets you as you step inside the distilleries where the traditional recipe and ancient distilling techniques are still used even today. Prepare for tours, tastings and shopping!

Did you know?

Hooray for diversification!

The ban on absinthe led to the closing down of most of Pontarlier's distilleries. Those that survived owe salvation to their own inventiveness and their capacity to diversify.

Nowadays the distilleries produce aniseed spirits such as Pontarlier, as well as pine or fruit liqueurs, gentiane, brandy, etc.


The tasting ritual

First of all, absinthe is poured neat into a special shot glass. An absinthe spoon is placed across the glass with a sugar lump on top, and ice-cold water is dripped over the sugar until it dissolves. The liquid becomes cloudy and the beverage is ready to drink.

The slotted spoon, the sugar, the water fountain... pit-a-pat... it's captivating!

all about absinthe
Alain DOIRE / Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Tourisme
overview of the best culinary specialities 

Great products galore!

Your exploration of the gastronomy of the Jura Mountains invevitably includes these iconic products! Absinthe of course, but also cheese and salted meats. All the mouthwatering opportunities you need to become hooked on these excellent specialities!

En résumé