Initiatives

Developments in the promotion of a common Franco-Swiss historic, cultural and economic heritage

 

In 1997, under the leadership of Nicolas Giger and Eric-André Klauser, the events committee in the village of Boveresse organised the first absinthe festival in Switzerland.

Always in people's heads, but more rarely in their glasses, absinthe reappeared in France thanks to the European Union which, under a 1998 directive, re-authorised its production provided that the thujone content did not exceed 35 milligrams per litre. Thujone is a molecule in the absinthe plant which at very high doses attacks the nervous system. In the same year, the directive was transposed into French law by Michel Rocard's government through a decree authorising production under two conditions: the absence of fennel in the recipes used, and specific labelling ("wormwood-based aperitifs" or "wormwood-based spirits"). The 1915 law and its subsequent amendments were permanently repealed in early 2011, meaning that the drink could now be officially labelled "absinthe".

 

Against this legislative backdrop, numerous products started appearing on the market including, in late 2001, a 45% proof absinthe produced by François Guy, a Pontarlier distiller.

Also in 2001, the Friends of Pontarlier Museum decided to organise an annual event that would take place on the first weekend in October and which they called "Les Absinthiades". The objective of this cultural, educational and awareness-raising event was to reinstate Pontarlier as the world's economic capital of absinthe, a status the town enjoyed from 1805 to 1915. It was around this time that the first absinthe-based chocolates, cakes and perfumes started appearing.

In 2004, Pontarlier Town Council launched the Absinthe Festival with a focus on tourism and entertainment which takes place around the wormwood harvest in the last weekend of July.

On 1st March 2005 *, Switzerland repealed the prohibition law of 1910; a trade organisation consisting of 16 distillers and one grower was set up.

Mid 2008: under the guidance of Philippe Chapon, President of the Friends of Pontarlier Museum, and Nicolas Giger, the Association Pays de l'Absinthe was created. They were respectively elected Vice-President and President of the organisation.

2009: the administrative launch of the Absinthe Trail project led by Pontarlier Town Council and the Association Pays de l’Absinthe.

17 May 2011: the French parliament repealed the law of 16 March 1915 and French producers could now officially label their products with the word "absinthe".

 

* Anniversary date explaining the choice of 10 March 2010 as the presentation day for the Absinthe Trail project.