When planning your trip in Aix-en-Provence, you might be looking forward to play a bit of pétanque, the emblematic sport played in the South of France. If so, you would be entirely right as it is such a nice way to chill, even drinking a little Pastis (with moderation of course!). As mentioned before, Petanque has been “invented” in La Ciotat, a little fishing harbour which I highly recommend to visit during. But you might come across some people throwing boules and thinking they are playing pétanque. Do not be misled, there are two very similar versions of it.
Pétanques is the most famous sport. It is so easy to pick up and enjoy, I would highly recommend you do give it a go. If you fancy doing so during your stay at my guest house Maison Saint Jerome , do let me know I have a spare set of bowls you are most welcome to carry. It is played either 1 vs 1 or in doublette (team of 2) or even in triplette (team of three). The objective is of course to get your bowl as close as possible to the little marker called “le cochonnet”. If a team has 3 bowls closer to the cochonnet than the opposing team, then they score 3 points. A party is played in 13 points. The terrain has to be 4 meters wide and 12 meters long. The player stays static in a circle (usually drawn at every restart of a throw). And the cochonnet has to be between 6 and 10 meters. The feet are, in theory static and sticking together. The expression in local language is “pied tanqués”, “feet glued” hence the name of the game! That’s pretty much it but far more details available here.
Boules Provencales is probably preceding Petanques. It is played in a very similar way. Where it differs is by the size of the terrain. 4 metres to 24 metres long. The cochonnet has to be between 15 and 20 meters. So much much further away than in a game of petanques. The player therefore is therefore allowed one step if he aims for the cochonnet or he is allowed to make three steps if he aims for a long shot straight at an opponent’s ball (known as “tirer”).
But overall, don’t get too worried, the game is very simple and very distracting. Do give it a go!