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The art of playing pétanque, a southeastern tradition getting more and more popular in Paris!

August 1, 2012

Now that summer is finally here in the capital, Parisians are rushing outside to  sit at the terrasses of restaurants and cafés or to mob the gardens and squares. Most of them will simply enjoy a cold drink or rest but you will also most certainly get to see people gathering to play “Pétanque”. The game of Pétanque was originally a sport played in South East France. It has recently become quite popular and trendy among Parisians who like to play it on dirt after a picnic.

The rules are basic but will invariably generate fierce debate among contenders: each player has three metal balls. The first player draws a circle on the ground and then throws the “cochonnet”, a small ball made of wood. He then throws his first ball as close as possible to the cochonnet. The second player throws his ball from the same circle. The next player then throws his ball and so on. Once all the players have thrown at least one ball, the player whose ball is the furthest away from the cochonnet plays again, and so on. The player who wins is the one who threw his ball as close as possible to the cochonnet. If the second closest ball is also his, he then scores 2 points and 3 points if the third closest ball is also his. The winner is the first player who reaches 13 points.

Playing pétanque as an amateur is actually quite simple and doesn’t require much technique. You just need to be able to make the difference between “pointer”, which means trying to throw your ball as close as possible to the “cochonnet” and “tirer”, which means trying to hit one of your opponents’ balls in order to bring it further away from the cochonnet.

The pétanque is the #10 favorite sport in France. More than 300.000 French play on a regular basis, while millions play at least once a year, during their vacations or when picnicking.

The best spots to play pétanque in Paris are:

  • the Lutece arenas
  • the Dauphine square
  • the Petanque Club de Montmartre (membership required)
  • the Canal Saint-Martin
One Comment leave one →
  1. August 3, 2012 11:53 pm

    Merci, have a set but seem to be using Bocce rules, must check if there is a difference in Italy to France.

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