Melons have been cultivated in the Cavaillon region for at least five centuries and probably even longer. The first definite date quoted is 1495 when Charles VIII is reported to have brought some seeds back from Italy where melons were growned in the country gardens of the popes, in Cantelupo, near Rome.
But the “cantaloupe” melons were probably introduced to Provence a century and a half earlier when Avignon was the popes’s official residence.
In Cavaillon, the real “gold rush” began in the second half of the XIXth Century when the weekly fresh-produce market became so busy. Amongst the admirers of Cavaillon’s delicious melons was the writer Alexandre Dumas. He donated all of his 194 published works to Cavaillon and promised to send a copy of all his future publications as well, on just one condition: to be awarded a life annuity, stipulated by municipal bill, of 12 melons a year.
The town fathers were delighted to grant Dumas his request, and until his death in 1870, a dozen melons were dispatched to him every summer.
In order to promote the glory of the local fruit, the Cavaillon Melon Brotherhood was founded with all the ritual solemnity of a holy order. The enthronement ceremony welcomes new members every year.
Many specialities are based on melon such as marmalades, flawoured melon chocolates, melon liquor, melon aperitif, sweets… These products are on sale in different shops in town.