Boule de Pétanque, boutique La Boule Bleue dans le quartier du Panier


Its your turn to play

« Tu tires ou tu pointes* ? » meaning : do you shoot or do you point ? This sentence is made  famous thanks to a French custom, dear to the people of Marseille: Pétanque. This game,   born in Provence,  brings  together all generations all year round on the various courts of Marseille, the region and even beyond.

Pétanque, a Provencal tradition

The tradition says that Marseille counts as many Petanque courts as there are villages. From the  hills of “LaTreille’ district to the beaches of the “Prado”, from the “Port de  l’Estaque” to the “Port des Goudes”, Pétanque holds no secrets for anyone. People of Marseille especially like to go and hit a few balls. In this sport,  like a symbol,  the 13  is synonymous with victory.
Pétanque or the “game of “tanned feet”( in french : jeu des pieds tanqués) if we pay attention to the literal meaning of the provencal term, is much more than a simple custom, since today it represents the 11th french sport regarding the number of licensed players. From the youngest to the oldest, occasionally or more frequently, we appreciate playing this game as it conveys above all the values of sharing and respect.
If the game of pétanque has taken a big international magnitude with the organisation each year of tournaments such as ‘La Marseillaise’ or ‘Le Provencal 13’, it is also a sport that is practiced in the family environment around a good meal and a good aperitif.

 What you need to know before playing pétanque

Like any self-respecting Marseille heritage, the metaphor is very present in petanque. The eyes are as much glued towards the winner that gets 13 points, as on  the one who does not score any point during a game. In the current language, we say he is “Fanny*”. Every bowling alley, whatever its size, wherever it is in the city, has a small statue of a more or less plump  lady  presenting her sweet bottom. Kissing her buttocks is  a tradition that must be respected by those who have seen their score remain at zero. Marcel Pagnol ideally transcribed the scene in his book “Le temps des amours”.

Whether you keep playing “carreau*” over “carreau*” or have to “baiser Fanny” (kiss Fanny), petanque is above all a moment of joy where meeting  and living together is more important than the result.

‘Tirer’ (shooting)> throwing a ball with force towards an opponent’s ball with the aim of moving it further from the ‘cochonet’  (a small ball, that represents the aiming point)
‘Pointer’> pointing your ball with precision towards the ‘cochonet’ in order to be as close as possible.
‘Pieds tanqués’ (tanned feet)> when throwing, both feet have to be joint in a circle drawn on the ground.
‘Carreau’> the ball  thrown by the shooter takes the place of the one it has just hit.
‘Fanny’> Bottom of the lady aiming to nicely humiliate those who did not score any points, we say of the person that he has done “Fanny” (a fait Fanny).