pétanque, a French passion


Video duration: 4 mins

France 2

Article written by

France 2 – C. Guyon, J. Mimouni, Z. Berkous, O. Palomino, G. Liaboeuf

France Televisions

The French passion for pétanque was born more than 100 years ago, near Marseille. This must-have summer game brings all generations together.

In Provence, pétanque is a way of life. The history of petanque begins in La Ciotat (Bouches du Rhône), in 1910. Jules Lenoir, an expert in Provençal games, suffers from paralyzing rheumatism and can no longer run before throwing. His friends, sensitive to his suffering, offered him to play sitting down. “He said, no, pétanque is played standing up. (…) My grandfather decides to draw a circle around Jules Lenoir’s chair, and this circle will become the symbol of all pétanque games”says Martine Pilato, granddaughter of Joseph Pitiot, the inventor of bowls.

A game accessible to all

Soon, all of France was involved in the game: from camping to the beach, pétanque unites and brings together all generations. Once an emblematic festive pastime, the game of pétanque is now offered to enthusiasts in restaurants or in open-air bowling alleys, such as in Paris.

Accessible to all, the game has been democratized in particular by the technological evolution of the balls. Initially, players used studded wooden balls, before the 1929 arrival of the integral steel ball. Obut, which arrived in 1955, is today a world leader, with 2 million bowls sold a year. Today bowls has become a top-level sport. The world in Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône) brought together, at the beginning of July, 14,000 bowlers from all over the world.

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