Provence Pétanque

Boules storage

Boules storage

Here’s a bit of a mixed boules-bag of pictures from Provence.

The first picture is inside the massive clubhouse and bar at La Ciotat. They have over 200 members and the walls are lined with locked boxes for members to store their boules.

Pétanque signPétanque Sign

Here are a couple of street signs next to the famous terrain at La Ciotat where the game started.

Smooth terrain

Smooth terrain

This is a close-up of one of the new terrains at Istrès. The terrain is quite smooth and is only used for Le Jeu Provençal, way too smooth for the pétanque players!

Avignon handrail

Avignon handrail

At Avignon, they even use boules on the handrails.

La Ciotat Boulomanes

La Ciotat Boulomanes

This is the other club at La Ciotat where I played in one of the afternoon club comps.

La Ciotat terrain

La Ciotat terrain

This view shows about one-third of the playing area. There is as much again behind this section, plus another separate area used for Le Jeu Provençal.

Boule bleue banner

Boule bleue banner

There are lots of sponsors’ banners at the terrain – here’s one.

May programme

May programme

This is the program for May at La Ciotat – there is a comp almost every day throughout the whole month! A mixture of Doubles, Triples, Mêlées and Choosing partners, pétanque and Le Jeu Provençal.

Entry is typically €2, €3 or €5 and the usual system is that for every game you win, you get your money back – quite a good system, something to think about…

Restanque

Restanque

Memorial at La Ciotat.

Memorial

Memorial

And when it’s time to play on the great terrain in the sky, for only €189, you can have your own pétanque tombstone.

La Ciotat belote

La Ciotat belote

The card game, Belote, is just as popular with pétanque players, sometimes more so, with more playing belote inside than playing pétanque outside! As soon as our game had finished, my partner Françoise was playing.

Françoise was a bit of a ‘character’ – I think why she was willing to take anybody for a partner! During one of our games we played a couple of Marseille players, one of whom was quite ‘fiery’ and when Françoise went to check the boules, despite us having played all our boules, things got very heated and I actually had to step in and ask for ”Du calme, du calme!”.

After we’d finished, Françoise went to play belote and the two guys invited me for a drink where everything was joked about – C’est les boules!!! They found it very amusing that I’d come for a relaxing game on holiday and got embroiled in a dispute, not of my making.

Sign

Sign

At Cros de Cagnes, boules games are allowed until 10pm in winter and 11pm in summer – génial!

Cros de Cagnes Mêlée

Cros de Cagnes Mêlée

I played in the Saturday afternoon Triples Mêlée at Cros de Cagnes. A very large terrain but most of it extremely smooth with only the finest powder coating. An absolute classic ”marble players” terrain – you only had to give the boule the slightest nudge and it would roll and roll and roll… I found it very difficult to get to grips with but it obviously suited the older population as virtually no effort was required.

Whereas rolling shots are very much frowned upon at most clubs, here they were quite common place. They suited the terrain and the abilities of the older players.

Although we started reasonably well, I’m afraid it didn’t last and we had a bit of disasterous last end, 11-8 down: the opponents had a boule right in front of the jack. The boule clearly needed to be shot but the other two wanted to point. The guy who had been shooting – not terribly well, why we were losing – pointed two boules, inevitably behind. I wanted to shoot but our lady pointer said, “I’m shooting” and played a rolling shot which took out our only close boule. She then played a ”frustration shot” off the terrain. I couldn’t get anything closer and we lost. They blamed me for bad pointing…

Roadside

Roadside

Here in Istrès, they even use boules to stop the traffic from mounting the pavement!

Istrès: Ben

Istrès: Ben

This is Ben, one of the regulars at Istrès. A really friendly, laid-back guy, with a wonderfully gentle, relaxed shooting style. Plenty of hits and lots of carreau. We had one game together which went to 10-all before we scored 3 more points. I only thought we’d scored 2 but everybody insisted it was 3 and we shook hands!

They’ve actually got 4 main areas at the club, which has all been refurbished by the council. One are is very smooth and is only used for Le Jeu Provençal. There is a new area which has just been tarmaced and given a coating of stones. They have to wait until next week before playing on it. The area where everybody was playing was a ‘natural’ area, next to the lake. Very uneven, lots of stones – surprise! – and the obligatory drain cover.

Istrès drain

Istrès drain

Wavy drain

Wavy drain

The close-up shows how many stones. This terrain was much harder to point on. Most of the players used a high-lob but there were lots of ”bad bounces” due to the very large number of stones. It was a terrain that really rewarded good shooting but you had to be boule-to-boule to succeed.

Now you see it...

Now you see it...

I managed to get one pic of a successful shot – again, it gives you an idea of how rough the terrain is – in total constrast to Cros de Cagnes!

... now you don't!

... now you don't!

The boule-dozer preparing the new terrain.

Boule-dozer

Boule-dozer

New terrain

New terrain

This was the main section of the new terrain, marked into 8 terrains for competitions. Because of the width limitations, the markings were diagonal to give extra length.

Blue terrain

Blue terrain

Istrès buvette

Istrès buvette

The new clubhouse – Brighton council, take note!!!

Ben at work

Ben at work

Ben at the bar.

Registration

Registration

And at the registration desk.

Masters

Masters

This guy is one of France’s top players, from the local club at Miramas, he’d come over for the Friday night comp. I forgot to ask his name but we had quite a long chat, he was very friendly, albeit with a strong Midi accent (!) and talked about many of the championships he’d played in. He said he usually played as the Milieur (middle player) but was shooting in the evening Doubles comp.

Istrès

Istrès

Shooting

Shooting

Here he is in action – body hardly moving, just an extremely straight and fluid arm movement. Again, the boule just seems to ‘float’ through the air before landing on the target boule,

La belote

La belote

Again, belote at Istrès. I played in the Doubles comp with a young French-Moroccan guy, Mehdi and we were against the two young guys here playing belote. Neither of us were brilliant shooters – essential really on such a difficult terrain and, although we put up a good fight, we lost 13-8 to a much stronger team.

We were then in the ‘consolage’ where were played two young teenagers. The youngest was a very good shooter and I’m afraid it was time for an early bath…

Before the comp started there were lots of families around and lots of young children who could hardly hold a boule but they were all shooting – that’s the way to start playing pétanque!

À bientôt

Ray Ager

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10 Responses to Provence Pétanque

  1. Marcus Hayward says:

    Sounds like you are having a great time Ray, all that experience! can’t wait for you to return and share! Have a great rest of your time.

    À bientôt

    Marcus

  2. Trish says:

    I’m enjoying the News from the South very much and looking forward to the next instalment! You’re spoilt for choice with so many great terrains Ray – are you going to bring back any samples to add to BHPC??

    • Hi Trish,

      I’m afraid this time it will just have to be the photos. Last time I was called to security in Marseille airport and asked ”What’s the bag of white powder in your bag?”

      That took a bit of explaining…

      Regards,

      Ray

  3. Pat Connolly says:

    What a great set-up – could certainly take a few ideas from them (it’s implementing them which seems the hard thing to do!!!)

    It’s going to seem a bit tame when you get back to Brighton!

    • Well, back to reality… Just been fannied in the afternoon Doubles Mêlée at Istrès.

      We played on the new terrain – they decided the tarmac had hardened sufficiently to play on. I played with a guy who wasn’t a bad shooter – his first hit was a perfect carreau but I’m afraid he missed a few shots and my pointing was far from brilliant.

      The best pointers just play amazing lobs, such that the boule hardly rolls when it lands – mine roll an extra 3m!!! Lots to learn.

      We were playing two very strong brothers: my first boule was a bit long, about 1m past the jack. But they shot all 5 of our remaining boules – 5 points on the first end. 4 points on the next end. They pointed right onto the jack on the 3rd end. We missed 3 shots, I pointed my 3 boules, ok but nothing brilliant. They shot the nearest, scoring 2 points.

      Another early bath 😦

      Their father is also one of the top players. Had a chat with one of them afterwards who told me he started playing at a very young age and had always played, guided by his father – who beat them in the final!

      The standard of play at Istrès really is very good indeed. I feel I have a lot to learn.

      Off to Sète tomorrow.

      The Mistral has been blowing today, not cold but very windy – bit like Breezy Brighton, almost felt at home 🙂

      Regards,

      Ray

  4. Dave Smith says:

    Ray, excellent factual stories and pictures… are you back now in sunny Brighton?

    There is still a slim chance that we (myself and Lindsay) might visit BHPC on Sunday afternoon. It would be nice to meet up with yourself and others for a chat and a game.

    Do you know if the ‘Moving Mélêe’ went ahead?

    Best,

    Dave S.

    • Hi Dave,

      Yes, back in ‘breezy’ Brighton now.

      I’ll be around Sunday, if you do visit – be great to meet up.

      Yes the Moving Mêlée went ahead while I was away.

      Regards,

      Ray

  5. That was a frankly amazing article…

  6. I couldnt think you are more right.

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