The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 15

Discover the Drome, Nyons - the last Provencal frontier, Charente-Maritime, Burgundy, Paris gastronomy, Nice, secret Provence, recipes, a whole lot more. It's the next best thing to being in France...

Josette says that the

Josette says that the ball probably hit a caillou—a pebble. “Ce n’est pas de ta faute,” she says, touching his arm. He seems reassured to think the pebble may be at fault.Peter goes next. He’s tall and thin compared to the French, and looks more like cricket bowler than a boules player. He’s about to go into shooting mode. Shooting is a strategy in which the player throws the ball hard enough to knock an opponent’s boule away from the cochonnet, or the cochonnet away from an opponent’s boule. Just as Peter is about to throw, Robert emits a barely audible clucking noise. Peter stops in mid-windup. He puts his hands on his hips, tilts his head, and stares at Robert. Their running joke is that Peter turns chicken whenever he throws. Robert looks away and feigns innocence. Peter winds up again, and Robert clucks again. This time Peter follows through and his boule misses Josette’s by a mile, skittering off into the trees. Robert can’t contain a guffaw. On his second throw, Peter is ready for him, and he knocks Josette’s boule off to the right with an explosive crack, leaving the cochonnet open. Up comes Marco, a man so old that he doesn’t actually walk. He simply rocks back and forth while leaning forward. His throwing style is a miracle of efficiency: he stands ramrod straight under his sailor hat, imagining the course of the boule; then he opens his hand. The boule rolls down his fingers, onto the ground, and continues to the target as if pulled by a magnet. This time it rolls right up to the cochonnet and holds the point. Jeannine is the last to go. Her throwing style could be described as no style at all. Most players lead with the back of the hand as they lob the boule into the air, but Jeannine just tosses it out there underhand. Her boule lands short of Marco’s, then rolls up close to it. So close, in fact, that all the players rush up to see who has won the round. Jean-Pierre stares at the two balls and the cochonnet. He squints and rubs his chin. He looks at Robert, who is walking from one side to the other to get a better view. Sophie says it’s Jeannine. Christine thinks it’s Marco. Members of both teams are down on their haunches to get a better look at the situation. Opinions are running about fifty-fifty. There’s no resolution in sight. Simple rules of boules The game is played between two teams of 1, 2 or 3 players - singles or doubles. To start a coin is generally tossed to decide who begins the game and has the right to place the cochonnet (the small ball - literally piglet). You can also use an a stone or cork from a bottle. A circle is drawn by the winning team of the coin toss. Players must not step outside while throwing. The circle should be about 0.5m in diameter. The cochonnet is tossed between 4m and 8m, or 6 to 10 paces from the circle in any direction. A player from the coin toss winning team throws the first boule. The aim is to get it as close as possible to the “cochonnet” without touching it. Both feet must stay together on the ground and within the circle while throwing and until the boule has landed. A player from the other team steps into the circle and aims to throw a boule closer to the cochonnet than their opponent, or to knock the opponent’s boule away. You must throw within 1 minute of your turn starting. More details on the rules of playing on The

“Attention!” I shout. I’m standing just outside the group, waving my iPhone. On the screen is the Pétanque-ometer, a clever little app that David Stuart told me about. You hold your phone over the cochonnet, and the app draws concentric rings to show precisely which ball is closest. I push my way into the middle of the group. “Regardez,” I say, lining up the phone with the boules. The whole group leans in. They look at the phone. They look at me. Then Robert starts clucking. Low at first, then louder. Soon everyone is imitating a chicken. “Look at the screen,” I say, “It’s Jeannine. Jeannine is closest!” The clucking gives way to out-and-out heckling. “Merci, monsieur iPhone,” says Robert. He turns to the crowd: “Mesdames et messieurs, c’est Steve Jobs!” Aimée runs over to a lavender bush and breaks off a length of stem. She runs back and stretches it from the cochonnet to one boule, and then to the other. She looks up at Jean-Pierre. “C’est Marco!” he cries. The players nod their heads in agreement. Jean-Pierre looks at me pityingly, and says I can throw out the marker to start the next round. “Allez, monsieur iPhone,” he says, handing me the cochonnet. Eileen and Sara beam from the sidelines. We were in. Marty Neumeier is the author of Beginning French by Les Americains. Find out more at his website: Beginning French