Before I met Stephanie (well, Stephanie’s dad) I’d never heard of Pétanque. And before Sunday all I knew about it was a similarity to the Italian game of Bocce.
We got there a little after 11 and were immediately partitioned into different teams of three. Each player got two metal balls (boules) weighing about a pound and a half each. The hardest part from that point on was remembering whose boules were whose. Instead of each team using the same color, say, everyone had their own, differentiated only by the pattern of lines cut into the surface, and wear.
The game is played by members from each team tossing their boules down a semi-flat gravelly surface towards a small wooden ball (cochonnet) about 20 feet away. If your boule gets closest, then someone from the opposing team has to try to get closer or knock yours away.
This is of course where is gets tricky, because with 6 people playing, you’ve got 12 metal balls 20 feet away to keep straight. In the end, the team with the boule closest to the cochonnet can score up to 3 points, one for each boule that’s closest without an intervening boule from the opposing team. Of course half the time the boules seemed equidistant from the cochonnet, in which case, out came the rulers.
After my first game, we had some lunchy snacks, watched a demonstration, participated in a pointing and shooting competition, and then played some more games. I stuck with my original team. They weren’t a talkative pair, but they were good, and by late in the afternoon, we had cleaned up.