I was lost in green. As the green grass whizzed by rolling green hills, I secured the Chartreuse in my lap. Feeling content in the passenger seat of Antoine’s loud campervan, I surveyed the scenery as green turned to grey and we slowly ascended into the mountains. I was pretty sure we were lost, but I didn’t care. As if to read my mind, Antoine smiled at me, “We’re deep in Chartreuse now”.
With past weekends filled with house projects, Ikea runs and general post-week recoveries, we were well overdue for a day trip. And the idea of a small visit to the Chartreuse cave seemed ideal- it would be short and simple…and delicious.
We entered into a space covered in Chartreuse (both the color and liqueur). I was surprised to learn that not only was the tour gratuit, but with that lack of ticket payment, you got to survey the distillery, watch a unique 3D film of Chartreuse history, tour the longest liqueur cellar in the world (you heard that right folks!), and sample a Chartreuse flavor of your choosing. Impressionnant, non?
Chartreuse is composed of 130 herbs, plants and flowers. After steeping for about 8 hours, a sweet flavored liqueur with quite the kick is born. The smell is flavorful as the combination of many different plants and flowers swirl around your nose. And the taste is difficult to describe as it’s truly unique. As Antoine once said, “It’s like licking a pine tree.” Works for me.
We were able to discover some of these plants through touch and smell but only some, as the Chartreuse secret must remain in tact.
I was quite intrigued by the Elixir Végétal de la Grande-Chartreuse, which is also made with 130 plants, but is far stronger. This elixir came to existence through the efforts of monks in an attempt to concoct the elixir of life. While they didn’t succeed, at least they created a really strong, really delicious liqueur, which to this day is claimed as a tonic. Oh Monks. They always seem to uncover the most delicious secrets of alcohol. Is there a message here?
You can learn even more about Chartreuse history here.
After savoring our verres verts (green glasses), and purchasing our bottle of Chartreuse on the way out, we realized we didn’t want the adventure to stop. So we headed to the mountains to explore the Fort du Saint-Eynard. Built to protect the Chartreuse mountains (and that sweet sweet liqueur), Fort Eynard contained quite the view.
Still smiling from the hide and seek in the world’s longest liqueur cave, our childlike excitement continued as we explored the fort, surveyed our domain, communicated with donkeys and climbed on rocks for a better (and scarier) view. It was good to get out.
As the clouds followed us back down the mountain, I smiled. It can be wonderful to wander. You never know what you’ll discover.