“Mel for miel (honey) and Vita for la vie (life)”. Melvita, the organic cosmetics brand from Ardèche, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. It was created in 1983 in Lagorce by beekeeper-biologist Bernard Chevilliat and his brother Philippe.

" My connection with Ardèche goes back to the late 60s. At that time, I used to come and work here during the summer on an isolated farm, but it was in 1977 that I settled permanently in Lagorce on an old farm. My initial plan was to keep bees and look after horses during the winter explains Bernard Chevilliat.

It was also at Gras in Ardèche that he met his future wife Nûriël, who has since supported him in all his professional ventures. Bernard quickly turned to beekeeping and 5 years later, with his younger brother, created natural and organic products derived from bee products such as propolis, royal jelly and pollen.

Everything then happened very quickly, with the focus exclusively on natural products and a network of organic shops. The first hexagonal vegetable soap design was a real success in its first year, selling in its hundreds of thousands. The first trade fairs and the first brand launches outside of Ardèche confirmed the interest in these products, which put ‘nature at the heart’ of their formulas.

“Originally, the brand name was Melvitaflor, then Melvitacosm, before becoming simply just Melvita in 1990,” explains Bernard.

P1322419©Marina Geray
©Marina Geray

300 employees in 2008 and a presence worldwide

How did a small apiary in a remote corner of the garrigue in southern Ardèche become France’s leading organic cosmetics company in the early 2000s, with over 300 employees and, later, 60 own-brand shops around the world?

“Since 1987, we’ve been committed to innovation and creativity, setting up a high-performance research and development facility which has enabled us to become a recognised subcontractor, particularly in the soap and skincare products sector,” points out Bernard Chevilliat.

“Our ‘Nature Charter’, created in 1999, predated organic certification and the award of the Cosmébio accreditation certified by Écocert in 2002 – an accreditation which has been instrumental in our strong growth. We’ve also always paid close attention to our image, with attractive catalogues and carefully designed, recognisable packaging. Finally, we always enjoyed the support of the local authorities when the Lagorce production site underwent various expansions.”

Subcontracting, which began in 1989, for major companies such as L’Oréal, Nuxe, Sephora, Nina Ricci, Dior and Chanel, enabled us to strengthen our expertise and quality standards, while helping to equip the Ardèche facility with a powerful production tool. This subcontracting activity came to an end in 2009 after the arrival of L’Occitane, which needed the facilities for its own production.

The acquisition of the company by L’Occitane in 2008 did not change the company’s philosophy in any way. The Provençal company wanted to acquire a solid organic brand to expand its range. Melvita now benefits from a strong international sales network, which has grown considerably in Asia. This is now its number one market, with a particularly strong presence in Japan.

The management team’s attentive approach to its committed employees, who are proud to work for a world-renowned company based in the south of France, has also contributed to Melvita’s success. Bernard Chevilliat, who left the company in 2014 to become a publisher, concludes. “Throughout these 40 years, the brand has never turned its back on its origins. Melvita’s success is linked to the identity and image of the Ardèche region, and above all to its naturalness. Bees have also shown us how to live together cleverly and efficiently.”

Bernard Chevilliat talks about his arrival in Ardèche and the beginnings of Melvita in the book Vivant (Le Passeur, 2022).


Melvita in 2023

The brand has more than 200 organic beauty products and 10 registered patents. It is represented abroad in 16 countries in the form of subsidiaries or distributors, including 2,500 points of sale, of which 1,500 are in France and around forty are directly-owned Melvita shops.

Most of the subsidiaries are in Asia, led by Japan, which is now the second-largest market with sales almost equivalent to those in France.

Best sellers include Argan Bio Active Lifting Cream, Source de Rose Hydra-Plumping Cream, Eau Extraordinaire Rose, Or Bio Extraordinary Oil and Or Rose Firming Oil.

P1322403©Marina Geray
©Marina Geray



La Fontaine de Cade

4595 route d’Aubenas

07150  Lagorce

Phone : +33(0)4 75 88 78 00



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