The artichoke is an old crop in the Roussillon area of southern France, where it has been cultivated since at least the 17th century. In around 1830, the production of this crop booms. Starting in the beginning of the 20th century, it is shipped all across France and to Germany and England thanks to the development of rail transportation, where it makes up 60% of the value of the local crop production. Starting around the 1930s, the artichoke progressively takes over its current terroir, replacing wine and prairie lands.
The Roussillon artichoke is distinguished by the earliness – it is the first French artichoke to reach the market each year. It is characterized by its very tight bracts, and indication of freshness and a long shelf life, but additionally of tenderness and sweetness.
The climactic conditions of the area of production favor the earliness of the Roussillon artichoke, and the soils chosen by the vegetable growers encourage its development. The Roussillon artichoke is the fruit of nine months of patience and careful attention, from the planting by hand done from the end of May to August to the harvest (also by hand) in the spring.
The Roussillon artichoke benefits from a strong reputation based on its earliness (strongly linked to the unique climactic conditions of its area of production) and the savoir-faire of its producers, and has benefited from protected geographic indication status since July 2015.