July 30, 2008


Chris sent us these pictures of his brand new home court, with a lot of nice little details, in Gastonia, NC. Which is just a bit west of Charlotte, so I'm sure we will meet him soon. Thanks for sharing!

And Gary inaugurated a great new terrain in Lincolnton (just north of Gastonia) last week, wide enough for two games. At this pace we will soon be able to hop from one town to the next without having to forego our favorite pastime.

July 28, 2008

Famous Fannys have arrived

At La Marseillaise in 2006 I visited Battezanti's huge museum tent in Marseille, bought a couple of his Fannys, and we had a very long chat about all the different models he had on exhibit. Since many people have been asking us about Fannys for their backyard boulodromes, we hooked up again and the first shipment of beautifully colored damzels arrived today. They did travel in style, by UPS Express, leaving Provence on Friday evening, arriving in North Carolina Monday morning.

Battezanti is quite a character. Fannys have become his life, and he has become an icon to all the Marseillaise players and visitors. We chatted again last week and he's very proud that one of his pieces will become a permanent exhibit at the International Petanque Museum. I plan to meet him again soon, and will make an extensive report, especially about some of the hilarious contraptions he has designed.

Meanwhile my resumé is going from bad to worse:
"What do you do for a living, sir?" - "Well, I sell balls, and naked butts". Anyone ever notice what a coincidence it is that Fanny can mean "butt" in American English? As to British English... Let's not go there.

Fannys by Battezanti

July 27, 2008

Hot couple on the courts

This "hot" couple, Gary & Shirley, - in Winston-Salem today - will soon celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary!

On the adjacent court Josh & Adrian kept shooting consistently, but ... Sue (and Danny) had the last word. As always, it ain't over till it's over.

With Jimmy Ruffin in the background.
We have the perfect radio station here for us geezers: Majic94.1.

July 26, 2008

Petanque in Vermont

Slightly north of Montpelier, and part of the town called Calais (pronounced like "palace") you can find Adamant, a small village that - incidentally - until 1905 bore the intriguing name Sodom.
And that's where Padma & his friends live and play petanque!
The group is a mix of locals and expats: Padma for instance is a landscape artist and arborist originally from Switzerland, but he went to school in France, and hence played petanque as a youngster.
And they are adamant about playing anytime, anywhere. Petanque takes them places, so to speak, and they love it. Above you see Jérôme, Padma & Peter on a conventional terrain, a driveway. And below on one of their walking trips last fall. That's when they use a red billiard ball for a cochonnet, for obvious reasons.
If the pictures are very low-res , that's because high speed internet has yet to reach Adamant. Thanks, Padma for sending them all the same!

July 25, 2008

Petanque on Google Maps

An interesting discovery this morning: if you go to Google Maps and click on "Popular user-created maps" (or click on the image in this post) you get a list - ranging from Billy Joel to Nascar tracks to Apple stores and - surprise - Petanque in the USA.

In reality it is not so surprising. I spend hours every day on the phone with players and potential players across the country. The question "Where can I find other players?" ranks way up there, together with "Which boules should I get?" and the # 1 classic "What's the difference between bocce and petanque?".

Let's keep the map high on the list, so more people find it, and the number of spots keeps growing. We're at close to 100 markers, and there are some nice new ones every month. Like Albion CA, Chester CT, and soon Eastlake in Seattle.

Hence an appeal to all petanque webmasters: please put it somewhere on your site with a link , like Petanque Marinière did recently. Thanks, on behalf of all the new aficionados.

Summer entertaining tips

It's great to see lifestyle writers such as Kim Vallée suggesting pétanque for summer entertainment.

Petanque and Picnic in the City Park

One little comment: make that 5 parts water to 1 with the pastis. Not one or two. Unless you're serving drinks to the other team ;-)
(one of Peter Mayle's game secrets)

Paris turns into beach again

The truck with sand in Brooklyn was impressive, but this is major surgery!
For the seventh year the Seine river banks are turned into a huge beach with - "noblesse oblige" - several spots dedicated for pétanque. And many other cities in Europe have since copied the "city beach" idea.

July 24, 2008

Petanque in Albion, CA

Here's a report from Toby in Albion, on the NW Coast of California. He's right about the court being awesome. Thanks for sharing! And thanks to all the people in area code 707 who order boules from us.

A few weeks ago you and I spoke about our Petanque group in Albion, California that meets each Tuesday Morning. We have a pretty regular group of 8 - 12 boulers each week. On Bastille Day (July 13), the Ledford House Restaurant, where our home court is, hosted an all-day event with bistro food, wine and a tournament with 16 teams from Mendocino, Albion and Willits. Of course, those reprobates from Willits swept the honors (as usual) ... Holy Cow, are they good! I will post pictures of that day and event later.

Here we are Mendocino's Finest, boules and all. The pictures are from yesterday at our weekly outing. These folks, believe it or not, are the backbone of the Mendocino Coastal Communities, even though we look like muggers, thuggers and thieves. I am the handsome guy in the red Petanque America hat.

We feel that we have the most beautiful Petanque court in America ... maybe the world. It overlooks the scenic Pacific Ocean, Salmon Cove and Salmon Point. As I mentioned before, you are always welcome to visit, we will provide accommodations and loads of scenic and cultural events.

All the best,

July 23, 2008

Europetanque 2008

Europetanque d'Azur got started in 2002, thanks to Jean-Claude Muscat, a retired police commissioner in Nice. Much smaller than la Marseillaise, because it is limited to 512 triplet teams, but more international and - since there's no overlap with any other French competition that weekend -, all the French top notch players are there.

For whatever reason their official website has no info at all about 2008. Empty as a bottle of pastis after the apéro... :-)

There were two US Teams this year:
Robert Pierre, Christian Triay (both LAPC) and Gérard Canabou (Boule du Desert) unfortunately got knocked out in the first round. And then went to cheer on the other team, Jean-Pierre Subrenat, Xavier Thibaud & Eric Bertin (all LBNY).

They were on a roll: in the first round they beat a local team from Nice, who were much more familiar with the big stones with tar terrain. But once they got the hang of it they were able to turn a 1 to 7 into a 13 to 8.
Next they were up against the team that will represent Monaco in the World Championships in Senegal. Another win. Followed by a win against a top team that included a player from Mauritania ranked amongst the top shooters worldwide.
That brought them to the 32th finals on the Promenade des Anglais (the Champs-Elysées of Nice) to face Damien Hureau, Julien Lamour & David Le Dantec, all world champions at one time or another. They did win two rounds at one point each, for a final score of 13 to 2. Not bad at all, if you know that the Hureau team went on to win the tournament after defeating Michel Loy's team, then Grazzini/Giorgo/Piezzoli by 13-0 and then the Belgian team of Van Campenhout/Hemon/Masuy by 13-12 in the final. A final that lasted 1:40 min and was at one stage in Belgium's favor at 11 to 2...

Congrats to our USA team, who at first were regarded as merely "des touristes" but at the end respected as really "des boulistes"!
Thanks to Jean-Pierre for the team photos.
And here are the winners:

July 21, 2008

Soft pétanque on Bastille Day

While on Smith & Dean the steel boules were clanging, 6 blocks South - on Degraw - one could barely hear the soft boules landing. But the atmosphere was great, lots to eat & drink, and the shade from the enormous trees a welcome reprieve from the burning sun.
This was the second edition, bound to become yet another tradition in the area!

Direct from Marseille

In case you thought all they do in Marseille is play pétanque ...

This from the World Series 13 beach volleyball, going on right now: the daily show by the dancers from Tenerife.

July 18, 2008

Petanque in Virginia

Richmond is right off I-95 on the way from NY, so I just hàd to stop and visit our friends the "Boulefrogs" in the historic Church Hill district. Just minutes from the highway.

It all started when Richard Taranto, a longstanding member of NCCP - the Washington club - moved there and suddenly found himself with no one else to play. Yet most streets have back alleys with crushed stone, all ideally suited for petanque! So he put an ad in the local community paper in the spring of 2005 and 12 people - all without any real petanque experience - showed up. Nine of those twelve are still members today, and almost thirty more have joined since.
The Parks & Recreation Dept saw the success and supported them with temporary courts in Chimborazo Park. They can now run 5 games at a time, but soon the entire park will be renovated and petanque will be a major ingredient in the new layout.
Very interesting is that most players live in walking distance from the courts. It is wonderful to see them arriving from different corners, each with their set of boules. Beautiful streets, by the way, with pearls of 19th century architecture.

They are thinking of a tournament in the fall. Plenty of alleys in the area to handle 10 or more games. If they do, there will definitely be a Carolina delegation!

Richmond Times-Dispatch slideshow

July 16, 2008

Marseillais in Brooklyn

But I do want to give you an idea of the euphoria that hit Smith Street when the final was up. While we are used to see Xavier and Gilles win tournaments, the fact that Bernard ended up winning the very tournament he has organized since 2002 was more than reason to party. What a relief from the stress before and during the day! He was ecstatic.
Xavier & Bernard are both from Marseille, and all three are staunch members of the Olympique de Marseille fan club in NY.

Brooklyn Bastille Day slideshow

Some of you are waiting for a repeat of my last years' slideshow, but the folks of BarTabac saved me a looooot of work by putting up their own this year.
Close to 1100 excellent (professional) photos went online tonight. Enjoy!

Brooklyn Bastille Day slideshow

And Christophe made one specially for the Boule NY friends.

July 15, 2008

Never a dull moment!

The Bar Tabac tournament started off with a little surprise.
After the truck had dropped a load of sand on the west side of Dean St for 9 courts, it was now time for the other 12 on the east side.
Surprise - only a trickle came out. At first we all thought it was a joke - look at the smile on Gilles' face. Then came the look of folks staring at a luggage conveyor belt at the airport, convinced that more suitcases were coming. Not. The truck was empty!

But the truck returned exactly an hour later with more, in time for the start of the tournament. By the way, the nicest, cleanest and shiniest concrete truck I have ever seen. Straight from the dealership.

More press coverage

The New York Times did a great feature about the petanque scene in NY & Brooklyn on Friday.
Petanque in the Park- July 11

And Westchester Petanque got a nice write-up in The Journal News, with a video clip online.
Playing petanque at Croton Point Park - July 13

Most of the folks pictured in both articles were competing at Smith Street on Sunday.

Brooklyn Bastille Day winners

The 7th edition was once again a smash hit. As soon as I get back to "normal" there will be a slideshow, but here already the winners of 2008!
l. to r.: Xavier, Bernard & Gilles:

and the runners-up: Jean-Pierre, Mamary & Franck:

Anyone who has some nice pictures to share for the slideshow, please send them to PetanqueAmerica@gmail.com

July 12, 2008

Petanque on NPR

Those who were at the San Pedro tournament will remember Charlie Schroeder, who interviewed lots of players, in preparation for the NPR Program "Only a Game", a production of WBUR Boston.

The petanque segment aired on July 12 but you can listen to it here (last item on the page) .

Charlie spent the entire day with us, and being a lawn bowler himself, it took him just seconds to understand pétanque. Thanks to him and to WBUR Boston for their interest!

July 11, 2008

Petanque is for losers!

It was high time we came up with some new T-shirts, so here we go. They will be available in Brooklyn this weekend.

For losers?? Here's why.

A tradition that I - as a mediocre player - quite like.

July 9, 2008

Petanque in Colorado Springs

My friend Arsene Dupin has done one of his magic tricks again:

I have been in Colorado Springs doing shows at the Colorado Renaissance Festival but nowhere to play pétanque and nobody to play with. So I had an idea to call several French restaurants in town to see if they were really French and did play some pétanque. One of them - La Petite Maison - was very friendly on the phone. Owner Henry Chaperon is from Paris, I asked him if he plays and he said "Of course, when I was young, so come to visit and have dinner with us and we can talk about making a court".
Well in the back of his patio he has a large garden that wasn't maintained but he decided that was the right thing to do to: lay out a pétanque court and have a place where people can get together in a French restaurant and have a great game of pétanque So after a full day of digging and shoveling we had a court. So now Colorado Springs is on the map: come have a meal, a pastis, and play pétanque at La Petite Maison.
Oh by the way I had the opportunity to test the menu THE BEST. Henry has a
Bastille Day Celebration on Saturday.
So: if you built it they will come!
A+ Arsene. I am sending the before and after pictures.

A true story. They discussed it last night over dinner and called me. They worked on it all day today. And we shipped the boules this afternoon so they have plenty for the Bastille Day party.
Vive Arsène & Henry !!