In Ouest Var, they’re back every year! Who? Provençal Water Jousts!
And what’s that? Nautical jousting are is one the oldest existing provençal games. In provençal we say “La Tàrgo prouvençalo”. The game is a combination of medieval honor and community celebration. A fight on the water between two people, each on a different boat.
An appointment you can’t miss
A lot of tournaments and championships take place during the summer period, and we love going to the harbour to watch them. It’s so much fun to be able to encourage your “team” and to guess which of the opponents will fall into the water – a bit chauvinistic of course! So, are you more of a red boat supporter or more of a blue boat fan?
A “sweet” break on the harbour
During the summer season, Saint Mandrier’s provençal water jousts are sure to provide some great moments of entertainment. But before the fun starts, we love to stroll along St Mandrier harbour. This harbour is well sheltered from the wind, snuggled in the “St George inlet” opposite Toulon Bay and its big navy ships. We can also admire a number of sailing boats and the “pointus” (fishing boats) used by the local fishermen. There are many café and restaurant terraces where you can eat – or you can choose to have a picnic on one of the beaches located around the harbour, la Vieille beach or if you like a wilder beach, try La Coudoulière beach a bit further on. We do prefer this one, where you can enjoy the sunset, doing some rock balancing with the rounded pebbles.
Before the excitement starts
The show is about to start, we are all huddled in the shade under a parasol. The cicadas seem to get louder, as if they are announcing an important moment.
The boats start to charge. The excitement increases. We decided to to root for the blue boat. Today, it’s just a friendly, organised by the local retailers. A competition between friends but friends who have no intention of letting friendship come into the way of sport. Each time two jousters climb on to the stern of the boat, we feel the tension building. And when the lance hits the opponent’s shield, we hear a loud crash amid the encouragement of the crowd. Will he fall? Will he not fall? The opponent has fallen into the water; it was a good fight. We hear the commentator’s musical accent announce the following participants. We stay until the end because we want to know who wins.
It was a great evening spent with the local people.
Mellowed by the fragrance of aniseed coming from the bar close by, we had a wonderful moment. Time seemed to stand still and for an short time we felt we were part of a Mistral or Pagnol story.
This is a foretaste of what you could experience if you attend a water jousting event at St Mandrier
The rules of the game
The provençal boats are fitted with a platform on the stern called “tintaine” which is 2 metres above the water.
Players wear the colour of their club, red or blue and carry a wooden shield on their chest to protect them.
Each player holds are 2.7 metre long wooden lance in the right hand and wooden cube, the “témoin”, in the left hand to prevent him from grabbing the opponent’s lance.
Each player must try to push the opponent into the water in a series of charges (fights). The winner is the one who manages to stay on the “tintaine”.