La Giraudiere volunteers joined locals to play Petanque in Brossac
Every Monday afternoon you will find a dedicated group of people having a game of Petanque in Brossac in an open gravelly space, Terrain de Petanque. Apparently petanque evolved early this century from an old French bowls game (la boule Provencale), when one of the old champions, suffering from arthritis and mourning his compromised agility, suggested there be no more running and jumping – everyone should throw the boules standing still, feet together, in a small starting circle. This is the good thing about the game – anyone of any ability can join in, young, old and in between. There is a degree of luck involved in the game so a high standard of ability is not necessarily required.
Last Monday, a group of La Giraudiere volunteers joined locals to play Petanque in Brossac. In fact this is an open invitation and volunteers are welcome to play every week.
Petanque is extremely simple – there’s a target, a small ball, and you have to get as close to it as possible with your boule. What makes it exciting is its unpredictability. You can be ahead but the game is not over until the last player has played the boule. If the last player moves the target ball or knocks an opponent’s ball out of the way this will change the layout of the boules and thus the score may change dramatically.
There is a lot of camaraderie in the game and it is not too serious. First to 13 points wins the game. There are different techniques in throwing the boules. Some roll the balls like ten pin bowling and others toss them so they get some backspin and don’t go rolling of too far from the target. The gravelly terrain in Brossac seemed better suited to the tossing technique as rolling the boule caused it to hit some bumps and veer off nowhere near the desired target. Petanque can be played on almost any terrain but most players actually prefer an uneven terrain to make it more challenging.
Petanque balls are the size of an orange, hollow and always made of metal. They are not too heavy. The feet are fixed firmly on the ground when throwing a boule. There is no run up. The player stands inside a small circle to throw. At the end of each game the circle is put in a different place.
We volunteers were quickly paired up with an experienced local player. Lots of instructions were offered but since our French is somewhat basic it was a matter of watching the experienced players and trying to follow what they were doing. Soon we were tossing and rolling just like the locals and managed to score some points.
All in all it was a fun experience and easy to get caught up in the competitiveness of the game. If you get the opportunity have a go. It’s a low stress activity in the outdoors and good fun.
So when you arrive at La Giraudiere make sure that you are among the group – La Giraudiere volunteers joined locals to play Petanque in Brossac.