Thursday, March 13, 2014

Playing Pétanque: A bit of France right here in Lafayette!

     You might know the game from seeing Frenchmen in berets rolling chrome balls down an outside court. The game is Pétanque, and you don’t have to travel to France to experience it.
     The Sixth International Pétanque Tournament will be held Friday-Sunday, March 28-30, 2014, right here in Lafayette, Louisiana. Naturally, because it’s Lafayette, we’ll have lots of fun at the same time.
Photos by Josh Coen
     Scheduled events in Lafayette’s Girard Park include:
     March 28: Welcome to visiting players at the French Table (where folks enjoy company and French conversation) at 5 p.m. at Johnston Street Java, a local coffee house; 
     March 29: Practice and pickup games at 2 p.m. at Girard Park, followed by Cajun music and food events beginning at 6 p.m. at local restaurants and venues; and
     March 30: Adult Tournament beginning at 9 a.m. 
     Just what is Pétanque anyway? The present form of the game originated in La Ciotat, in southern France by boule player Jules Lenoir who couldn’t run before throwing the ball due to his rheumatism. The field was cut in half with players stationary, hence its Provencal name meaning “feet together” or “feet anchored.” 
     “The first pétanque tournament with the new rules was organized in 1910 by the brothers Ernest and Joseph Pitiot, proprietors of a café at La Ciotat,” according to Lafayette’s La Boule Cadienne de Lafayette, the Cajun Boules of Lafayette, sponsor of the event. “After that the sport grew with great speed, and soon became the most popular form of boules.” 
     Now there are about 600,000 pétanque members in 52 countries.
     In Lafayette, the organization meets every fourth Sunday of the month and holds tournaments annually.
     The March events will be held in the north end of Girard Park on Girard Park Lane near the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Alumni House; look for the Acadian flag. The tournament is being sponsored by La Boule Cadienne de Lafayette, a local club of pétanque players who are members of the Pétanque Federation of USA. For more information, contact Mike LeBlanc at (337) 654-9467 or email him at or visit the website

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