Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Thru December 2001: Auvers-sur-Oise
By Wolfgang on Friday, December 07, 2001 - 04:46 pm: Edit

The pictures have been sent to Vera and should be online on her Emerald quest site soon...

By Wolfgang on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 09:11 am: Edit

I should have been more politicaly correct and just coldly said "I don't like his books and M.-C. D. do not like him anymore".

If I ever get the chance, I would be glad to meet him and present him my excuses over a glass of absinthe. That would be a good occasion to form my own judgment about the man.

On a side note, I scanned the pictures and will try to email it to Vera sometime this week.

By Petermarc on Friday, November 30, 2001 - 02:26 pm: Edit

it is great fun to visit the museum and auvers-sur-oise, but not easy...and believe me, there's alot more people around during the summer, with the tour buses and group-rented train stops...(this is the closest 'village of charm' to paris and was an escape for many other bohemians and artists during the belle epoque, which is not lost on tour operators)
marie-claude is a charming hostess in her absinthe chateau and loves to meet new people, and talk about all things absinthe...
however...the comments about benoît were out of line, based on your information (dr. o, wolfgang is not sharing that information NOT because he doesn't feel others 'are not worthy', it is because of their caustic nature, it is why i did not go into my discussion with marie-claude in pontarlier) whatever may have been implied, the reality has been very eloquently stated by oxygénée...
i once had the chance to meet james burke, an historian who has done several tv series
shown on bbc and public television, most notably 'the day the universe changed,' which i enjoyed immensely...though his style may not be textbook historian, it was fascinating how he made links to seemingly unassociated historical events, that directly or indirectly changed the course of the world...he was staying at the hotel i was managing in san francisco...he came up to the front desk...'how did your lecture go last night?'i asked...
-not too bad for an old plagiarist- was his humble response...

By Dr_Ordinaire on Friday, November 30, 2001 - 02:57 am: Edit

"My opinion is based on what I saw in his book and on some informations I have that I wont discuss on this forum."

Wolf, may I ask you not to do this? I'm particularly pissed at people in this Forum who tell me "I know, but you are not worthy of receiving my information..." You know who I'm speaking of...

By Oxygenee on Friday, November 30, 2001 - 02:42 am: Edit

I think you're being a little unfair to Benoit Noel, Wolfgang. I've corressponded a fair amount with Madame Delahaye and more recently also with Benoit, and have great respect for both of them.

Benoit is certainly no fool, but a highly professional art historian with a particular interest in absinthe. I don't think he has ever claimed the same level of technical expertise in the field of absinthe history as Madame Delahaye, and his books are aimed at a broader market than hers, hence their less erudite and more populist writing style.

I've read his most recent book cover to cover, and while I may have missed some nuances because of my very imperfect French, I really don't understand your reaction to it - I found it a good general primer - it doesnt pretend to be an authorative history. There are a few small mistakes I picked up, some of them clearly printers typos, but this is pretty much par for the course with all absinthe books - Madame Delahaye's books, including her most recent ones, also contain some errors and omissions.

Benoit's erstwhile collaboration with Madame Delahaye predates the Muse des Peintres book - he guest-edited some of the issues of her journal "L'absinthe" in the early '90's. Its really not logical to believe that for all these years he was a knowledgable and respected colleague of hers, and then suddenly became a plagiarising fool a year or two ago. Their extremely bitter falling out has I think caused both of them to behave in ways they may later regret ( I'm probably not alone in seeing a comic side to this ) - in Madame Delahaye's case instantly freezing out anyone who give's Benoit the time of day (to the distress of innocent bystanders like Petermarc), in Benoit's case for instance omitting to mention the Auver's sur Oise Absinthe Museum in the "Museums to Visit" section of his recent book (rather like omitting in a fit of pique The Louvre from your list of "Famous Art Museums in Paris").

With the recent growth in public interest in absinthe, and the ever increasing number of new absinthiana collectors both in France and more importantly internationally, there's surely room for several authorities in the field. Madame Delahaye has done more than anyone to codify and record the history of this field. We all owe her a continuing debt of gratitude for the remarkable research reflected in her books. But no-one has a monopoly of wisdom, and I think others, like Benoit, have an equally important role, both in adding to the store of information and in bringing it to a wider public.

By Wolfgang on Monday, November 26, 2001 - 07:56 pm: Edit

My opinion is based on what I saw in his book and on some informations I have that I wont discuss on this forum. He may be a nice guy, my informations may be wrong but the book is there on my desk and that can`t be just my imagination. At best I say he`s a nice fool and he should stick to art history and forget about the rest.

To those who read french I say, please buy the book "Une fee franco-suisse" and let`s play "find what's wrong, innacurate or ridiculous". At least we will have a good laugh ;-)

To his credit I shall say he did a great job on his first absinthe related book "Absinthe muse des peintres" where he did the art related research and left the absinthe related topic to Mme Delahaye.

By Heiko on Monday, November 26, 2001 - 07:46 am: Edit

Wolfgang, are you working on becoming Peter's successor as the "Christopher Columbus of the forum" ? ;-)

Only one thing I'd like to complain about: you can't say Benoit Noel is a fool when you don't know him. I haven't read any of his books and I haven't read any of Mdme Delahaye's neither, but I know Benoit Noel is a really nice guy and would be a perfect member of this forum. I can't say if his work is good, or whatever Mdme Delahaye doesn't like about him - but I know which one of the two I'd rather meet at a party (better: only one of the two would probably attend a party at all, and that would not be Mdme Delahaye, I guess...)

By Wolfgang on Sunday, November 25, 2001 - 07:12 pm: Edit

Ho, and we got free entrance ;-) ...

By Wolfgang on Sunday, November 25, 2001 - 06:50 pm: Edit

Last notes...

I also talked to her about Benoit Noel and his last book ''Une fee franco-suisse'' (full of ridiculous errors and omissions) and understood what it`s all about... In short he`s a fool and a plagiarist (I say that, she didn`t).

When I got in the cafe where my girlfriend was waiting, everybody at the bar turned their heads at the same time looking at me... I guess they don't see many goths in Auvers... We lunched there for about an hour and they looked at me the whole time. The waiter was very king doo and even gave us some free Beaujolais nouveau. Anyway, I'm not complaining, I assume. It's just to give you an idea of this small town where there's nobody in the streets and where everybody knows each other and meet at the cafe. I just love it. I want to go back to France and get rid of the souless uglyness of America!

By Louched_Liver on Sunday, November 25, 2001 - 06:40 pm: Edit

Wolfie baby,
Thanks for the tale of your travels. The visit w/the legendary Mme. Delahaye was especially interesting.

By Verawench on Sunday, November 25, 2001 - 06:36 pm: Edit

Wolfgang, I'd like to add yer story to the Emerald Quest.... email me.


By Wolfgang on Sunday, November 25, 2001 - 06:27 pm: Edit

For those going to Auvers to see the absinthe museum, from the train station turn left (West) on rue du Gal de Gaulle and then right on rue Calle.

Now there`s what you are waiting for!

Through the maze of narrow stone paved streets, we reached the absinthe museum. It's a nice stone house. Mme Delahaye was outside in her garden. She acted surprised to be recognized and looked happy to pose with me for a picture (JPG will come later when I get access to a scanner...). In her garden, she grows many herbs used in antiques absinthe receipes, including of course Artemisia absithium. As I previously read here, Marie-Claude Delahaye is an extremly kind women, knowledgeable, passionate but stil human and easyly reachable. It was a pleasure to talk whith her about some details of our mutual interest. To my surprise, she didn't seem to know about some modern spanish absinthe. As she told me, the first absinthe she tasted was from an antique bottle so I guess she was just wasted from the beginning ;-). Then again, I was happy to be there in november because there was almost no visitor.

In the first room, I saw the almost mythic (and unfindable) book "Absinthe Art et histoire" (The one sold about 200 US$ on Ebay...). When she saw my interest, after some absinthe chitchat, she told me she still had some copies of original printings of her books she kept for collectors... This was getting better and better ! I visited her incredible collection (but sorry she asked me not to take pictures). When I asked her how to recognize an antic glass, she just opened a display, took an incredibly large pontarlier glass and put it in my hands ! "Do you feal it ? I feal it when it's a real one" (followed by more technical explanations of course...). I couldn't beleive it !

Her collection is like a time travel, bottles after full bottles of antique absinthe. Fountains, painting, glass, spoons....lots of spoons! Nobody on the forum should go near Paris without going to Auvers. Even my girlfriend who doesn't like absinthe liked her visit to the absinthe museum and was charmed by Mme Delahaye. At the end of the visit I even had the chance to buy something I was not expecting to buy there (don't ask more detail, just imagine). She also gave me a cutting of artemisia absinthium (but unfortunatly it didn't pass through the canadian customs because we just can't import anything that's alive without the proper and expensive papers...). We exchanged emails and I gave her the forum address. I got out with a bag full of dedicated books, some free postcards and a pile of visit cards ;-) It would have been nice to talk about the green faery all day long but at that point my girlfriend was already waiting for me at the local cafe...

On a more technical side, I learned why modern french "absinthe" like Versinthe are so sweet...It's a twist in the french regulation. It's still against the law to make absinthe but it's permited to make liquor that contain artemisia absinthium. A liquor in France must contain a minimum amount of sugar...

I also learned that according to her, the absinthe community is very small. It's extremely rare for her to meet a knowledgable visitor in her museum. That's probably why she was so kind. (And that's probably why she cooperated to make something like La Fee for the mass instead of a true autentic repro...but that`s just my guess).

By the way, I tasted La Fee neat on the rock and it`s not that bad. I also tasted it with more sugar and it`s interesting . Ãt`s minty and ''cleaner'' than Deva even if a bit overcooked. I would buy a full bottle if it was available to Quebec Canada. It`s comparable to the best Spanish but a million miles from Jade... In other words, buy it but don`t pay 100$ for it.

If you go to Auvers, tell her I say hello !

Wolfgang (who seriously think about moving to France where absinthe roots are, where wines are so good, where the food is delicious and where women are soo sweet)

By Wolfgang on Sunday, November 25, 2001 - 04:38 pm: Edit

We finaly got to Auvers under a depressing gray sky. The strain station was desert. We looked around and when we saw the old stone church, we where drawn to it.

When I finaly got in front of the church, The one Van Gogh painted, I understood the meaning of he`s painting. This Church realy look haunted! We took some pictures and went to the cimetary where we found Van Gogh`s humble sepulchre surrounded by flowers. The old stone church he painted, the small town where he lived his last years, his remain just there six feet under and this terrible gray sky...

We came back from the cimetary quietly, holding hands in silent understating of the preciousness of the moment. I remember that I was fealing better. I had a fealing of accomplishment when I came back from his tomb. I then knew I was living one of the best days of my life.

Now was the time to find the absinthe museum !

By Rimbaud on Friday, November 23, 2001 - 04:39 pm: Edit

Oh, yes! I forgot that that's where the absinthe museum is located. Silly me! I must get over to France as soon as possible ...Auvers...Charleville's all too much!


By Chevalier on Friday, November 23, 2001 - 04:30 pm: Edit

Well, that's the nice thing about Auvers-sur-Oise. You get two for the price of one: Van Gogh and Delahaye.

By Rimbaud on Friday, November 23, 2001 - 04:16 pm: Edit

Was this trip Van Gogh related? That's the reason I want to visit well as Charleville, for Rimbaud.

~21st Century Rimbaud

By Chevalier on Friday, November 23, 2001 - 10:10 am: Edit

It's so confusing, in fact, that on my way back I decided to just walk -- along the train tracks from the town to the transfer station -- in the rain. Then a stationmaster caught me and threatened me with a fine.

By Absinthedrinker on Friday, November 23, 2001 - 02:52 am: Edit

Wolfgang, I can sympathise about the difficulty in reaching Auvers! I think we spent all afternoon on the trip too. There is a place that you can get off of the train to make the switch relatively easy, but you usually only work it out afterwards, during the long periods of time spent staring at rail maps on deserted stations...

By Wolfgang on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 08:18 pm: Edit

Auvers-sur-Oise is a small town lacated about 1 hour by train north of Paris. We went there on sunday the 18. In France, everything is quiet on sunday. At the "gare du nord" train station, the ticket clerc told us it was a direct ride but in fact we found out that there was a transfer... We ended up at the wrong place, in the middle of nowhere, trying to figure out how to go to Auvers. There was nobody aroud, the small town train station was desert. We finally found a place to buy a card for the public telephone (you can't use coins in those suckers!) and we called a taxi...we ended up talking to an answering machine. We then went to the local "cafe" whre the whole town seemed to be drinking the Beaujolais nouveau. There was a taxi in front of the place. We asked the waitress about it and she shouted : "Eugene! They are looking for you!". A guy came and explained to us it was impossible for him to give us a ride to Auvers. When I asked if it was very far away, he told me : "about 10 minutes" ! He was having his drink, we where just tourists and it was sunday... So we waited for the next train...

In the next chapter, our arrival to Auvers...

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