Discover the history of the Melon de Cavaillon, its culture, producers and labels. All the information and recipes related to this product from the Luberonnais region.
The melon appeared in the archives of Cavaillon as early as 1495: a regulation given by the two co-lords of the city, Clément de la Rovère (vice-legate of the pope) and Toussaint de Villeneuve (bishop of Cavaillon), states that “every inhabitant, except the infirm and pregnant women, found in the good of others picking grapes, almonds, nuts, peaches, figs, apples, pears, melons, clives and other fruits, shall pay for each fruit 6 denier.”
Refined production, it can be found throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries as a present offered to the great characters passing through the city: in 1620 the Duke of Guise offered “fruits, melons, artichokes, wine and bottles”. The same is when Monseigneur d'Oppède, the first President of the Parliament of Provence, receives his lot of artichokes, peaches and melons.
It was in the second half of the 19th century that the golden age of the melon took place, when the growth of market gardening and the emergence of the city as a commercial place soon became associated with an image soon consecrated: “the melon of Cavaillon”. As early as 1859, the City Council pointed out the importance of the weekly market, which “excites among neighboring cities, not jealousy, but astonishment and admiration. Indeed, our markets are so beautiful that our seats have become too small. The Esplanade du Clos, intended for the melon market, can barely contain a twentieth of the products brought and displayed on sale.”
The fame of our cucurbitacea was then widely established, as far as Paris where it found many amateurs, including the prolific writer Alexandre Dumas. In 1864, in response to a request from the city librarian, the writer, who possessed a sense of humour as well as that of opportunity, offered the city all his published work, but included the following clause:
“(?) have the kindness to say to Mr. Tourel, your honourable Mayor, that I put a condition to this shipment: if the city and the authorities of Cavaillon value my books, I love their melons very much, and I wish that in exchange for my 300 or 400 volumes, I will be constituted, by municipal decree, a life annuity of twelve melons a year.” The Municipal Council, delighted with the bargain, deliberated in these words: “we would have bad thanks not to accede to this desire, not to provide to the man who has been so generous to us, this small gastronomic enjoyment.” The library was therefore enriched with the works of the novelist, who received his annual batch of melons until his death (1870).
In 1892 the market until then weekly became daily. According to Ardouin-Dumazet “In 1895, Cavaillon had already shipped 6700 tons of goods, almost exclusively from early ones. In 1908, this figure amounted to 12,000. Cavaillon handed over 3828 tons of melons to his station! In sum, the 10,000 inhabitants of Cavaillon live mainly from the products of their rich terroir.”
From the middle of the 19th century to 1980: It is the golden age of the melon of Cavaillon, the activity is flourishing, the city thrives. Production is growing sharply, product packaging is improved, and each packaging or shipping house will create its own brand. The 1980s were synonymous with crisis and change: agricultural land was shrinking, but with yields increasing, the volume of goods traded on the market of national interest continued.
Currently, an approach to the establishment of I.G.P. (Protected Geographical Identification) is initiated as well as a promotion of the brand “Melon de Cavaillon”.
Cavaillon celebrates its famous cucurbitacea with its now traditional Feria. Two days of festivities where Provencal tradition, taurine culture and terroir blend.
On the program several abrivado (released from bulls), a peasant market, the parade of the great carriage drawn by 16 horses and Saturday evening a great musical animation in place Leon Gambetta.
Not to mention the great “russaitaio”, 100 wild horses dropped in the streets of the city centre framed by guardians who will marvel young and old with their majesty. Melon tastings and sales will also be offered.
Jean-Jacques Parvôt retains an authentic spirit and always emphasizes taste. Jean-Jacques Parvôt, the star Cavaillonais chef devotes a whole menu to the famous Melon de Cavaillon during the season.
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