The website for the lovers of the french lifestyle Live in France like the French


PICTO GOURMAND Created with Sketch.

Absinthe in Montmartre

Banned 100 years ago in France, Van Gogh and Verlaine's muse (Emile Zola described the ravages of it in  « L'Assommoir ») is reborn from its sulphurous reputation. I have the evidence to prove it, I had the experience of tasting it, in the customary manner, at the historical Café Montmartrois "La Bonne Franquette".

The green fairy who drove the artists of the 19th century crazy

Initially used to relieve stomach ache, fever or menstrual pain, Artemisia absinthium had been used as a medicine since Antiquity, before being turned into a drink by a... lace salesman at the end of the 18th century! When this future partner of the French Pernod distillery bought the recipe for an elixir concocted by an old Swiss bonesetter, he surely had no idea of the success it would meet with. By 1880, the drink was providing work for thousands of people and a livelihood for many companies exporting it abroad!

Popularized by soldiers returning from the Algerian war (who used it against malaria and dysentery), it was initially only available to the bourgeoisie, before its spread to Parisian cafés accompanied the great artistic movements of the time: Degas and Manet drank it at La Nouvelle Athènes, Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh spent whole nights in its company at Le Tambourin; Verlaine and Rimbaud met and consumed it intensely at Café Pigalle...

"Absinthe brings oblivion... After the first glass you see things as you wish to see them, after the second you see them how they are not, after the third glass you see them as they really are."

Oscar Wilde

A true art of living

This aperitif is savoured by respecting a sort of ceremony requiring special equipment: a "fountain" and a pierced spoon which is suspended on the glass, the absinthe is then poured over a sugar lump, as it dilutes drop by drop, it exhales its aromas, which are a lot like anise. Careful though, it has a very high alcohol content (from 40 to 90 °!) so that it should be diluted, 1 volume of absinthe in 7 volumes of water, otherwise you may have hallucinations.

If you want to check for yourself if Oscar Wilde was right, you can choose from one of these mythical cafés in Montmartre: La mascotte, La Bonne Franquette, Le Bon Bock, L'Entracte, Le Cadet de Gascogne or La Pomponnette. A guaranteed aromatic, savourous and historical dive into the artistic 19th century !

Valérie from Comme des Français

Discover the history of other popular drinks in France :


Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health. Consume in moderation.