Archive through January 4, 2001

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived Thru Jan 2001:La Fee availability in France?:Archive through January 4, 2001
By Fluid on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 11:57 pm: Edit

A Frenchman eating Haggas?? Good God man, and you're still breathing???

Yikes. Myself, I too love good food. Once, I ordered a steak-frites in a quaint, semi-upscale brasserie. The place was packed... I asked the waiter for some mayonaise and he exclaimed "Mayonaise?? Pour la steak?? Ah non, ca ne marche pas! Ahh les Americains..." The whole restaurant went dead silent and all eyes focused on me as if I had leprosy. Well, once I let the waiter know that it was for my fries, things got a little better... He huffed and puffed but brought my request anyway (I lived in Holland for a while and acquired that taste, among other things).

Well, I'm sure the Hagas was good - I like some pretty strange things too... like green fairies in a bottle ;-)

By Tabreaux on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 11:12 am: Edit

Going to France? Forget driving yourself (and other people) nutty searching for the legal equivalent of cocaine. Sit back, enjoy the scenery, get a baguette and a hunk of gruyere, and wash it down with a couple of glasses of Suze.

By Petermarc on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 10:36 am: Edit

no shit...? the french aren't stupid...if you don't know about food/wine, you won't go anywhere...what i love is the fact that they will
love you if you love good food...or will at least if try anything they throw at you....i bought a haggas (scottish) for new years and no one(french) would eat it except for me, and it was good...

By Don_walsh on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 10:24 am: Edit

Dear Fluid

Yeah I know it is 1/6/2000 and I promised 1/15/2000.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Ted will make an official announcement soon.

The holiday season cost us some weeks especially regarding bottles, labels, and other packaging details. The actual production of absinthe is on line and on schedule. The delays are much to my chagrin caused by trivia. Ted will state what those delays are. They aren't major.

By Fluid on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 10:14 am: Edit

I agree with Don...lose the t-shirt idea.

A nudge and a wink, discretion, genuine friendliness (not u.s.-sitcom back-slapping smiles) and personal interest will go long way. How far they get you is also dependent on your time schedule though... If you don't speak French, I'd find a small roadside cafe with no sign, order a pastis, and then make motions like you need a sugar spoon. From there, it's all body language... Regardless of the harshness tourists seem to experience in Paris, natives outside of the larger cities are very friendly. But don't be loud, they hate that. And if some old, bored, absinthe-imbibing Frenchman sees your apparent confusion, he may take the opportunity to get a free drink from you :-)

If you are good at creating synchronicities, this is probably yer best shot... but if it feels like a shot in the dark to yah, I'd say your chances are quite slim (see 100+ posts about French absinthe paranoia).

Petermarc: no offense intended... I lived 7 years in Paris / Versailles, and I know what happens when some American starts acting like they're in Disneyland... or when they speak slower and louder, as if that will help... hah!!!!

Don_walsh: I've combed through pretty much all the posts since 9/00 looking for more info on a release date,, etc... how about an update? or photos of progress? I'm intrigued!

By Don_walsh on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 09:09 am: Edit

All intel has been that French people, when asked about absinthe by tourists, react about like Manhattan yuppies would if asked by European toursists about heroin.

I run a very international establishment in Bangkok and have had many French people here and Swiss both francophone and German speaking. There, the secret of my easy La Bleue connections is out! But my point is that I get much more mixed reactions about absinthe than the above would indicate. No one has run screaming out the door. A few have opined that it is not healthy. But they have politely listened to my arguments in that regard and as it became clear to them that I was not ignorant they were generally receptive. Some who were pastis fans took to the samples of our absinthes very favorably. A few Frenchmen, living in various parts of South East Asia, have departed with whole bottles as gifts.

Perhaps French expats are not as narrow minded as provincial compatriates?

The same is quite true of Americans.

Still my advice would be: do NOT wander around France with an Absinthe T-shirt asking all and sundry where you can buy some fee verte. You will be a pariah.

By Pataphysician on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 08:41 am: Edit

Unfortunately, my French is not good. (Two years in High School, a year in College, a year in Graduate School and I don't remember a damn thing). Maybe I should wear an absinthe T-shirt or prop a spoon in my front pocket.

By Petermarc on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 08:03 am: Edit

could you be more specific about what
'south' means? regardless, i appreciate the memories and will try it out this summer when i tour the spain/french 'frontière'...your 2 cents
is certainly worth an 'abs' chez moi...

By Fluid on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 07:15 am: Edit

I spent '86 in Paris, living with some wonderful Aussies who spent a couple months down south on a vineyard (to work). While down in a cafe one weekend, they heard someone order a "sucre" and receive a pastis-looking drink. When they asked the winemaker what that was about, they got the scoop (in hushed whispers). After frequenting the cafe more and learning a few locals' names, they ordered the sucres. If I remember correctly, they were given a short lecture about how it was "an old man's drink", but in the end they were served. Simon said the headache-hangover was brutal. However, he was itching for more... (never stooped to drinking turpentine though!)

Myself, I haven't had a chance to tour Southern France since then, so I can't suggest any particular towns (or cafes) to visit... I remember now, in another conversation with a visitor we had in Paris, that this is common all along the border region between France and Spain.

How's that for 15-year-old 2 cents?

By Petermarc on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 06:10 am: Edit

all right fluid, more info than that! how do you know this? what's the story? inquiring minds want to know!

By Fluid on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 03:30 am: Edit

Hi all,

I've been reading the posts from the past few months and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my order from sc... thanks for all the info! I don't have much to share to the forum, but this may help those travelling in Southern France. The code word for absinthe down there (in the small towns... non-tourist cafes) is "sucre" pronounced "sue-cray". This means "sugared", a reference to the ritual. Don't know if they'll serve it to a stranger though... better to make small talk and buy a couple rounds first :-)

I would not, under any circumstances, attempt this without a decent command of the language and an ability to make quick friends.

Have fun!

By Pataphysician on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 03:27 am: Edit

Matisse, I think. (A chapel by Manet would probably have Jesus serving absinthe at the Last Supper. "This is my blood. Do you take it with sugar?")

What are the crowds like in that area in March and April?

By Absinthedrinker on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 02:23 am: Edit

The village is worth a visit but get there early as it gets very, very touristy. The Maeght collection is truly amazing and a must see, all those sculptures just dotted around the landscape are superb. Whilst there you should see the chapel decorated by Manet (I think, just had a mental blank on impressionists). The square of the nearby town of Vence is a good place to stop for lunch.

By Pataphysician on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 02:09 am: Edit

Thanks for clarifying about St. Paul-de-Vence, I was scratching my head, too. I'm going there mainly to see the Maeght art museum. Did you see it, Absinthedrinker? Is it worth the trip?

By Petermarc on Friday, January 05, 2001 - 12:38 am: Edit

oh,'s ville-france-sur-mer that has the harbor and boats 'n stuff...yeah, go there! (well, like almost every coastal french town on the med, even st. tropez still has some charm in a palm beach, beverly hills with big yachts from england sort of way...
i guess i better stick to writing about places i've actually seen...

By Absinthedrinker on Thursday, January 04, 2001 - 09:22 pm: Edit

Peter - you should take up travel writing! However when I visited St Paul-de-Vence last summer it was several 100 meters up a hill side so I'm not sure about the boats and beautiful port...

By Petermarc on Thursday, January 04, 2001 - 09:35 am: Edit

not absinthe that i know of (in the south)however, in the past many absinthes were made in the south(and alpes-maritimes)and i don't know why this wouldn't have held over like my experience in the doubs and pontarlier...
i know of at least one 'artisanal' pastis that is being made in marseille (it is also not legal to make pastis as an individual)it has been a while since i had it and i keep telling my father-in-law that i want to talk to his cousin about 'changing' the recipe a little...
i had a chat with an antique dealer from castelnaudary (near toulouse and carcassonne, which looks surreal from the road but is depressingly touristic once you get inside) great cassoulet---white bean, sausage, duck stew)who not only sold many antiques to mc delahaye for her museum, but has a taste for it also, he was the one who explained that the way to make an absinthe is to take a sugar tablet and break it in half, stack the pieces on each other and then pour water on them, when they both melted, the drink would be ready...once you get a little conversation going, and they know you really like good french food and drink, information flows (this is not easy, not always accurate and is helped by buying the rounds)

best pastis...versinthe, henri bardouin, pontarlier anis (not likely found in the south)
absente (may be different in france)
try others you haven't heard of for fun, there are many
however...start off by ordering ricard (THE pastis
of marseille) NO ONE drinks pernod in the south...

By Pataphysician on Thursday, January 04, 2001 - 08:42 am: Edit

almost everyone drinks pastis and maybe someone has 'tweaked' an artisanal recipe...bring up the subject at first like you're joking to test the reaction, then see if it goes anywhere

Are you serious?! Are you saying there is bootleg absinthe in the Cote d'Azur? Tell me more! Where should I look?

I was under the impression that I'd be thrown out on my ear if I even mention absinthe in France.

Also, what ARE the best pastis I'm likely to find?

PS: Thanks for a wealth of information!!

By Petermarc on Thursday, January 04, 2001 - 08:14 am: Edit

you will only find versinthe and absente in the south of france, and a host of other pastis, some good, some bad, some very far as i can tell, pernod gave all of it's stock of oxygénée to the vinotheque near lake geneva to sell to the swiss and of course, us, who will go through any sort of hassle to get it...if you have a solid address somewhere in france, you could have oxygénée sent to it, and then pick it up...good luck trying to find it in a shop...nice is a fun town, stay near the old part,la perouse is a great hotel in the side of a cliff (somewhat expensive but worth it)the negresco is a great hotel to see, not stay at, for it's open areas, one roon done by gustave eiffel, the guest rooms are a 1970's freak show with gold glitter bathtubs and toilets done for tacky russians and americans with jack, but, the resturant, the chanteclaire (sp?)is one of the best deals for michelin starred dining in france, go for lunch...make sure to try the gellato ice cream in the old town (tomato and basil flavor not recommended but exists)...monte carlo is good for a day, just to see it(the old town, the casino sucks unless you get into the high-roller rooms) paul-de-vence is supposed to be great, a must see if you like boats and a beautiful port (i haven't seen it yet, but it is all my friends talk about now)...arles is good for about one or two days, nice roman theatre..avignon is also a nice walled city, but has become too touristed...if you're into wine, go to gigondas, forget chateauneuf-de-pape for visiting, not near as charming and you can taste almost every wine made in gigondas for free, without stress in the village tasting room (as far as i'm concerned, the most comprehensive and relaxing wine-tasting(no pressure for sales)that i have experienced in france)go to bandol(also has a tasting room but i haven't tried it, skip bandol rosé and white stick to red ... cassis, stick to white, not rosé (near marseille)for wine and sea-view...the best white (one of the best in france) is chateau simone, near aix-en-provence but can be found in good wine shops...uh, marseille, if you're feeling adventurous, the old port is charming once you get off the main street,and you can take a boat to chateau d'if (count of monte cristo fame) or cassis, marseille looks much better from the water, but the rest of it, well...remember 'french connection'? you have to really know what your looking for in, forget absinthe, but almost everyone drinks pastis and maybe someone has 'tweaked' an artisanal recipe...bring up the subject at first like you're joking to test the reaction, then see if it goes anywhere...the french in the south will love it that you like pastis, you will go far in their hearts when you order it...try it with perrier to freak them out,
it is good, carbonated water was often used with absinthe, and no one does this now...explain how this is a traditional method, blah, blah, blah, you never know...someone might just be waiting to share something interesting...

By Tabreaux on Thursday, January 04, 2001 - 07:27 am: Edit

It has recently been determined that Trenet and Kermann seem to be 'legitimate' absinthe, and neither is legal (available) in France. Oxygenee appears to be legal in France, but is virtually unavailable. The jury is still out on exactly what it is.

As far as bringing absinthe back into the U.S., declared as "liquor", you should have no problems, and even if inspected, there is no cause for alarm (i.e. no one seems to care). Going to France however, I doub't you'll have anything in the way of absinthe to bring back.

By Pataphysician on Thursday, January 04, 2001 - 07:15 am: Edit

What about:

Pere Kermann

Anybody know with certainty about the availability of these in the south of France?

Any potential hassle with customs if I bring some home to the US? I realize these are pastis, but will the labels cause alarm?

By Tabreaux on Thursday, January 04, 2001 - 06:22 am: Edit

La Fee is not available in France, as absinthe is illegal in France. The French tend to view absinthe like a bad disease. La Fee is made exclusively for export. About the only thing you will find in France is pastis. Pastis is not like absinthe, but I find Versinthe to be a better brand.

By Pataphysician on Thursday, January 04, 2001 - 04:50 am: Edit

Forgive me if this was covered before.

Is La Fee available in France?

I may be going to the Cote d'Azur and I'm wondering if I'd be able to get some in, say, Nice?

What other Pastis/Absinthe-like might I find?

We'll be coming from Italy along the coast. We're thinking of Monte Carlo, Nice, the 'Perched Villages', Mougins, St. Paul-de-Vence, Arles, Avignon. Any tips on traveling in that region? Must-see? Avoid? Eat? Sleep?

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