It seems a simple game to most of us, not being French. To the French however, this is the peoples sport number one: Boules! In French: pétanque.
The basic idea is not to difficult. Take a small wooden ball en throw it away somewhere between six and ten metres. Then, each player throws metal balls as close to the wooden ball as he can. The iron balls have a slice between 71 and 80 millimetres and weigh between seven and eight hectogram.
|Hard to play. Just rolling your ball makes no sense at all in this situation.
There are several ways to achieve this goal, depending on the state of the ground and the locations of the balls your opponents have already thrown. The easiest way is to just roll the ball in the right direction.
Another option is to shoot the ball (The French say: tirer). Take a ball under your hand and throw it with a high curve. A little backspin prevents the ball from rolling to far. You may also shoot aiming at an opponents ball. Make the curve a little lower, so your ball gets more power to put the other one away...
You play one against one (tête à tête), two against to (duettes), or three against three (triplettes). In the last case, each player has two balls, otherwise each one has three balls. The beginning point is indicated by a circle. You may only throw from the middle of this circle.
The first player throws the small target ball and his first ball. Then come the other players. After the last one has thrown his first ball, the team at the largest distance to the target throws again until it's no longer in second position or it's out of balls. In both cases the other team is at turn, until they're in closest position. The game ends when no one has any ball left.
For the winning team, all balls that are closer to the target as any ball of the opponent count for a point. The first team to score 13 points is winner of the match.
A match can easily take two hours. In a tournament with several rounds, this means some people do have to wait a long time. However, someone really French doesn‘t have any problem waiting. He takes a pastis or a red wine and has a good time watching the other matches.
To get really in the mood, you might want to visit petanque museums too. You will find them in Saint-Bonnet-le-Chateau (west of Lyon), where Jean Blanc in 1927 invented hollow iron balls, and Vallauris (near Cannes). In Aiguines in the Gorges du Verdon (Alps) is the Musée des Tourneurs, dedicated to antique balls.