Pétanque – the quintessential French outdoor ball game – is traditionally seen as a summertime pastime for older men, often seen tippling the aniseed-flavoured tipple pastis while they bowl with their friends. But if a new summer festival in Paris entirely dedicated to the sport is anything to go by, a hipster-led revival is on its way.
- A competitor plays pétanque in Marseille. (Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty)
Originating from Provence in southern France, the summer sport is a highly social game, played outside on often-improvised sandy pitches, involving two teams of two or three. Each player aims to throw a hollow steel ball as close to a smaller ball, called a cochonnet, as possible (much like bocce).
- Participants at Pétanque Paradise, a multi-day festival dedicated to the sport.
And while the stereotype might be of 60-year-old men playing seriously, the game has begun to entice younger, hipper players – and even celebrities. When actress Diane Kruger was photographed playing the game during a Chanel party in St Tropez a couple of summers ago, it may have marked the tipping point of when pétanque started to become cool.
- People play pétanque at the Jardin du Palais Royal in Paris. (Stephane De Sakutin/AFP/Getty)
This summer’s newly created Pétanque Paradise, a multi-day festival dedicated to the sport, is further proof of the game’s revived popularity. The next event is taking place 30 August, from noon to 10pm, with pétanque tournaments that anyone can sign up for, as well as street food, kids’ activities and workshops, all set to a DJ soundtrack, to keep everyone busy in between games. Get a taste of the event through the video above.
Other places to play pétanque in Paris include the trendy Canal de l’Ourcq in the north of Paris, which attracts younger groups and amateurs; for a more traditional ambiance, try the Luxembourg Gardens or the Jardin des Plantes.
- People play pétanque along the Seine. (Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty)