Rouge Vif D’Etampes: Fairy Tale Pumpkin Of France

Rouge Vif D’Etampes is a highly ornamental 19th century French market pumpkin. Its stunning color and unique shape make it fit for a fairy tale. 

In 1883, French seed house Vilmorin-Andrieux described it as the most popular pumpkin of the day in Parisian markets. The name translates to “Vivid red from Etampes”,  a nod to the medieval town just south of Paris. 

While the name might suggest that this vibrant red pumpkin was grown in Etampes, it’s likely not the case. 

Rather, it might have been a marketing ploy to give the already elegant pumpkin a touch of class. In the days of unbridled and wild marketing claims, seed companies commonly added a bit of flair by naming varieties after the coolest cities and towns. 

The wealthy Paris suburb of Etampes was one such place. 

This memorable heirloom was an iconic variety at les Halles, the largest wholesale market in Paris. One can imagine towering stacks of this enticing red pumpkin at the bustling market. 

Its popular status in French culture lends credence to the claim that this deeply ribbed and massive pumpkin inspired author Charles Perrault to create the pumpkin coach in the original French version of the Cinderella story in the 1600s. To this day, the Rouge Vif D’ Etampes is commonly referred to as the “Cinderella pumpkin,” especially by U.S seed companies. 

W. Atlee Burpee was the first to introduce Rouge Vif D’Etampes to U.S gardeners in 1883. The attractive shape and color make this a phenomenal decoration for autumn displays, and upon its introduction, Burpee’s recommended it as a variety for exhibition pumpkins.

More than just a pretty pumpkin, this variety is the standard for French soup stocks. A traditional preparation calls for baking the squash whole, filling the cavity with leeks, garlic and other vegetables and spices to marry the flavors. They are also often cooked into jams and baked into gratin. 

The fruits can reach up to 20 pounds apiece and will store well, keeping nutritious squash on the menu all winter long. 

To grow a bigger pumpkin, cull most of the fruit from the plant to direct energy and nutrients into just a few. Picked small, the fruit is like a buttery yellow summer squash and has a delectable, silky texture.

Find Rouge Vif D’Etampes seeds here.