Petanque, The Perfect Beach Sport

Recently, while on the island of Antigua we were joined for the day by friends who had recently set anchor in the bay with their well-traveled sailing yacht.  Sitting on beautiful Pigeon Beach, we felt a passing urge to be somewhat more active, but only slightly more so.  Stuart asked if I wanted to play a game the French frequently use to while away the hours, called Petangue.  Well truthfully it was I who first asked, but it makes for a far better story, and sounds far less foolish on my part, to say that Stuart challenged me.

Now admittedly, the French game of Petanque, is something I know very little about, actually nothing.  But I do have a great deal of the traditional American competitive spirit within, and my blind spot for personal shortcomings aides considerably in my willing spirit.  So with virtually no knowledge of the game, no conceivable talent that may translate well, and literally no practice whatsoever, I proudly accepted the challenge.

Petangue is the French version of the more commonly known Italian Bocce, or the British Bolles. The nice thing about Petangue is that it can easily be played while holding your favorite drink or refreshment of the day, something that readily got my attention under the hot tropical sun.  The game is played by tossing a small ball, called a coushette, approximately 15-20 feet to a soft, directionless landing.  You then take a larger croquette sized ball and attempt to get your ball to land closer to the coushette than your opponent’s ball.  Four balls are used per competitor, and there you have the basics.  A single point is awarded for each ball you get closer than your opponent.

The Rookie

I’m not really sure if all the slanderous comments and jibing were requisite, or if these were just voluntary assaults on my character, tossed about purely for my pleasure, but it did seem to add to the general good times and fun in the sand.

Stuart Proudfoot putting me to shame. (Artist Helen Mussell in the background)

After just a few ventings at an offending overhanging branch that had frequently set it’s sights on my ball, I actually made good progress. Fifteen points are required to win a game, and best 3 out of 5 games wins the match. As you may guess, Stuart handily won the match, and while my 2-3 showing wasn’t the stellar report I was hoping for, the effort wasn’t the most embarrassing thing I’ve done in my life either. Perhaps more on that will come in a later post!  In the final analysis we highly recommend this as a quiet, fun beach-time activity with friends. Nothing like killing time limin in the islands!

Live the Life,

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