Cavaillon Melon

Discover the history of the Cavaillon melon, its culture, how to taste it and its specialties. All the information related to this product of the soil cavaillonnais.

The history of the Cavaillon Melon

The melon belongs to the cucurbit family, like cucumbers and squash. It is assumed that the melon comes from Africa. It was already cultivated in Egypt five centuries before our era.
It will reach Greece, then Rome, around the 1st century. During the Renaissance, monks cultivated it for the Popes, in their summer residence of Cantalupo, near Rome... hence the name "cantaloupe".

Marché aux melons de Cavaillon
Archive photo. Cavaillon melon market in the 1930s.
Photo © Archives municipales de Cavaillon.

Melon de Cavaillon

It is said that the Cavaillon melon arrived in the region thanks to the Popes who came to live in Avignon.

At first considered in the 18th century as a precious food because it was rare, it was only reserved for prestigious tables such as that of the king and offered as a present to the great people passing through the city: to the Duke of Guise, in 1620, they offered "fruits, melons, artichokes, wine and bottles". The same thing happened when Monseigneur d'Oppède, First President of the Parliament of Provence, came to the city and received his share of artichokes, peaches and melons.

The golden age of the Cavaillon melon

It was in the 19th century that it experienced a strong development with the arrival of the railroads allowing the shipping of melons produced in the South of France throughout the Rhone Valley and as far as Paris. From the middle of the 19th century, it is the golden age of the Cavaillon melon, the activity is flourishing, the city prospers. The early market of the Place du Clos becomes daily following the expansion of the latter in the 1870s. It was held there until 1965. The production develops strongly, the packaging of the product is improved, and each packaging or shipping company will create its own brand. 
From then on, the melon became the emblematic food of the city of Cavaillon and its reputation was widely established, even in Paris where it found many fans, including the prolix writer Alexandre Dumas, who would have even donated to the city of Cavaillon a copy of each of his works, in exchange for a life annuity of 12 melons per year.

The recognition of a know-how

In the twentieth century, this agricultural boom did not stop and the city of Cavaillon continued to prosper. It is only at the end of the 80s that the economic situation becomes more difficult. Many large shipping companies closed their doors, and there was a reorganization of the agricultural world.
However, melon producers are determined to continue the ancestral production of certain fruits, including the Melon de Cavaillon, to which they want to give back its letters of nobility. To make it recognized as the best, and to prefer a quality agriculture is part of their objectives. In 2002, the professionals of the sector gathered within the Interprofessional Syndicat des Maîtres Melonniers de Cavaillon. A process of setting up a PGI (Protected Geographical Identification) is initiated as well as a work of promotion of the brand " Melon de Cavaillon ". It is awarded to members of the Syndicat des Maîtres Melonniers de Cavaillon according to specifications that guarantee good practices to be observed for the production of premium melons in conventional and organic production: sugar content, harvesting/shipping time, selected plots and geographical area...).

Cultivation of the melon and its harvest

The cultivation of melon is done by sowing seeds from February to April when the soil starts to warm up. It is done either under heated shelter or a little later in the field. The fruit grows on a creeping vine on the ground, with tendrils and large blue-green leaves. The plant, very demanding, requires a very good sunning and an abundant watering. The flowers, which appear on the stems of the plant, of yellow colors, are unisexual (male or female) or hermaphrodite from where the preponderant and exclusive role of the pollinating insects, as the bee, which while going from flower to flower, transport the pollen necessary to ensure the fertilization of the fruits. 

Melon de Cavaillon

Melon de Cavaillon

Melon de Cavaillon

The first harvests of mature fruit begin 3.5 to 5 months after sowing. You can recognize a ripe fruit by its sweet and increasingly fragrant scent, by the first leaves above the melon that start to fade, it becomes lighter and a scar appears around its stalk.
The harvesting is done preferably early in the morning at the coolest time of the day, by hand and with a long stick to spread the leaves under which the melons are sheltered to protect them from too much direct exposure to the sun.

The melon harvest extends from May to the end of September.

Is the melon a fruit or a vegetable?
Mistakenly considered as a fruit, it is a vegetable with many nutritional qualities. Gorged with 90% of water, it contains many vitamins: carotene and vitamin C. It is also composed of minerals, trace elements and fibers (potassium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese...)

Melon au jambon - Canva

A must-have for the summer

On the stalls of our markets and in our stores in Luberon Coeur de Provence you will find from June to August beautiful melons type Charentais "yellow".

Became one of the most popular fruits of the summer, characterized by an orange flesh, juicy and very fragrant, it will delight the taste buds by its sweet flavor and freshness. Composed of nearly 90% water, it is very thirst-quenching and can be consumed throughout the day. It is delicious eaten plain as a starter or dessert, sliced or incorporated into a fruit salad. It can also be eaten in a savory version as an appetizer with a slice of cooked ham or hot, it will bring a sweet and salty touch to your meat and fish.

Did you know that?
The melon is a climacteric fruit. It is one of those fruits, like apples and figs, that continue to ripen after harvesting, unlike watermelon, also the queen of summer, which must be picked when ripe. To ripen a melon a little bit, you can put it under a bell or in a basket with other fruits like apple or banana. The ethylene that it releases will promote a faster ripening.

Melon en tranches - Canva

How to choose a melon?

To choose a melon, the density (weight/volume), the cracking of the stalk, a nice homogeneity of the color (green turning yellow) and the shape (embroidery, furrows ...) are good evaluation criteria.

How to store it?

A melon can easily be stored in a cool place for 5 or 6 days. Before placing it in the refrigerator, put it in a plastic bag or an airtight container. This way, its smell will not mix with other foods. It is possible to freeze it in cubes or in small balls.

Melon de Cavaillon

Melon specialties

Cigales and Meringues with melon

Cicadas are small cakes made with melon marinated in anise and coated with roasted almonds and honey. Laurent Jarry also offers melon meringues and, in season, melon marshmallows, berlingots and a melon cake "Le Saint Jacques".
"Pâtisserie Chocolaterie Jarry " Avenue Victor Basch, 84300 Cavaillon - Tel : 04 90 71 35 85

The Mélanis

Aperitif with melon, star anise, almonds, aromatic herbs and spices.
Restaurant Prévôt , 353, Avenue de Verdun, 84300 Cavaillon - Tel : 04 90 71 32 43 www.restaurant-prevot.com

The Melonnette

a Cavaillon specialty made at the "Etoile du Délice" pastry shop. It is a dark chocolate ganache with melon. To be enjoyed fresh!
 "L'Etoile du Délice" 57 place Castil Blaze, 84300 Cavaillon - Tel : 04 90 78 07 51

Candied Melons

Since 1873 the Rastouil family has been making candied fruit. What is the confisage ? It is simply to replace the water of the fruit by sugar in order to preserve it as long as possible. Today, Sylvie and Denis Rastouil perpetuate the family tradition for the pleasure of all.
"Confiserie Saint Denis " Z.A. le plan des Amandiers-RN100 - 84220 Les Beaumettes - Tel : 04 90 72 37 92 - www.confiserie-saintdenis.fr/

Melon jam with orange

In Robion, an artisanal jam factory, awarded by the profession, transforms the fruits of the neighboring orchards into refined jams, beautiful to look at and good to taste. Made in the old-fashioned way, the jams of La Roumanière evoke those that used to bend the shelves of our grandmothers.
"La Roumanière" 199 route de Cavaillon - 84440 Robion. Tel : 04 90 76 41 47 - www.laroumaniere.com/

Every year, Cavaillon celebrates the Melon on the first weekend of July!

Two festive days dedicated to the melon and Provencal traditions. On the program: tastings, animations, markets, concerts, exhibition...

In addition to this article


Discover Cavaillon in the Luberon, its history, the places to visit, its famous melon and its via Ferrata. A must-see site for your holidays in the South.

The Michelin-starred Chef Jean-Jacques Parvôt puts the Cavaillon melon in the spotlight

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.

Contact & informations

Melon de Cavaillon
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Melon de Cavaillon - Luberon Coeur de Provence
Melons de Cavaillon - Luberon Coeur de Provence
Melon de Cavaillon
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