In the shade of a plane tree or a pine, by the sea, or on the village square, in Provence Méditerranée, the slightest corner of land can become an ideal place to play pétanque with friends.

The origins of pétanque

“Pétanque” (French Bowls) was the product of a lovely friendship in La Ciotat… At the time, a certain Jules couldn’t play the “longue” or “jeu provençal” variety of bowls anymore because of his rheumatism. This variety consists of running to pick up speed before throwing the bowl. Poor Jules could no longer run so had to play alone with his feet stuck firmly together. Ernest, his friend, thought that wasn’t such a bad idea and that if he did that he could still play along with his childhood friend. In provençal, the expression “pèd tanco” means “feet together” and that’s how pétanque was born.

How to play?

The principle is quite easy. You probably already know the rules. The player puts his or her feet together and draws a circle around them. Then the player has to throw the smaller jack – usually called a “cochonnnet” or a “bouchon” at least 5-6 metres away and then try to get his or her bowls the closest possible to the jack. Is it better to point or shoot? “Pointer” or “Tirer” is the eternal dilemma 🙂 Every player has his speciality. Pointing is the technique whereby the player tries to throw the bowl the closest to the jack and shooting (“tirer”) is when you try to knock the opponent’s bowl out of the way!

The closest bowl to the jack wins the game. The game stops when a team reaches 13 points.

Avoid getting “Fanny”

To save face, you have to avoid “Fanny”. which means scoring 0!

According to tradition, if a team finishes the game at 0 points, they have to kiss Fanny’s behind – Fanny being represented by a picture. Apparently, this story came from before World War One in Lyon. A young lady with a big heart called Fanny spent her time watching bowl players and often slept in the street. She was known to comfort the losers if she was given a little money 😉 Today, if  a team gets “Fanny”, they usually have to buy a drink for their friends. However, you can often see a picture of Fanny displayed in bowling clubs.

Fanny, édition de 1920. Source Wikipédia.

One of the best spots for pétanque…

Now you’re an expert in the rules and traditions of pétanque, we’d like you to visit one of the best pétanque grounds in Ouest Var.

This “boulodrome” is located at the end of the Six Fours Islands corniche. It is the perfect place to admire the sunset while playing. There is a grandiose view. with the Gaou and Embiez Islands as a backdrop, proudly sporting their Genoese towers.

We have an appointment to meet Marius, our childhood friend. We have to admit it, playing pétanque is an excuse to go and spend time with our friends. It’s an opportunity to have a some fun and a good laugh. Marius hates losing at pétanque, especially doing a “Fanny”. As a little joke, we have invited a few friends who don’t really know how to play! We’ve looked after the food, there is a picnic and an apéritif in the bag!

There are six of us, so we’ll make two teams of three. We put the poorer players with Marius – on purpose. The games go on … Marius starts getting irritated because he realises our joke. In his musical accent, he says “Hey guys, you’re trying to pull a fast one on me, aren’t you?!”. Everyone bursts into laughter. It’s all good-natured fun and Marius is not at all resentful! We decide to go and have a drink at one of the seaside restaurants to finish off the evening.

Tomorrow, we’ll definitely be back for a return match!

A game of “pétanque” at le Gaou

Enjoy this experience... Go!