Balls, but in France
It’s no secret: the French love balls. Get your mind out of the gutter; of course, we don’t mean basketballs. In any case, you may have wondered on more than one occasion what those old men throwing silver spheres into the dirt are doing. Well, they’re engaging in one of the Parisians’ most beloved games (right behind soccer and seeing who can drink their coffee the slowest while they judge the outfits of passersby): pétanque.
Specialized pétanque areas have popped up all over Paris.
Early forms of the game were played by the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and eventually found their way to France’s Provence. In its current version, players stand in a small circle and compete to see who can toss their metal balls the closest to a smaller wooden one (the cochonnet, or piglet, awww). It’s typically played on gravel or sand, and specialized pétanque areas have popped up all over Paris, including at public parks and at spots on the river. Even so, the game is such a part of Parisian culture that people will play just about anywhere.
The game has picked up more of a hipster youth following within the past few years.
While traditionally played by elderly men (some of whom actually do wear berets), the game has picked up more of a hipster youth following within the past few years. Its governing body, the Fédération Française de Pétanque et Jeu Provençal (ahh yes the FFPJP,) has amassed hundreds of thousands of members, young and old.
Emily prepared for her travels in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands this summer in a Rocky-esque training montage: speed-eating croissants, running up hills wearing comfortable walking sandals, and bench pressing her 30-liter Osprey travel backpack. However, she realized the intense training may have been getting to her when she drop-kicked a box of macaroons off the Eiffel Tower, injuring three. For the rest of the summer, she recovered by playing chess with nice Flemish people. She ate frites. She took a silly yet endearing picture intentionally missing the point of the Louvre pyramid with her finger. She is now fully rehabilitated.