Pétanque/ la petanca
Pétanque / la petanca is a sport which originated in Occitania and more precisely in the Provence in the early 1900s. From 1945 onward, it quickly replaced the typical Provençal boules game seeing as it could be played by everyone and took place on shorter terrains as no run-up was needed (pétanque: from pès tancats, feet firm on the ground).
A game of pétanque represents a moment of relaxation on a day of labour. It’s a seasonal game which usually announces the first days of the summer season. Any flat piece of land can be used to play the game. But of course, any type of slope, hole, piece of gravel, etc on the terrain needs to be taken into account in order to have a good game.
Rather than being a sport, pétanque is first and foremost a game which allows people to meet, in the shade of the plane trees. But more than that, aside from some required technical skills which have been carefully exercised (and are subsequently commented and analyzed), from the way to lançar lo let (throw the jack) to highly tactical decisions like the choice between tirar e puntar (to shoot or to point), most of all, it is a meeting place where the latest village news is exchanged. It can be a simple game played with that evening’s aperitif as a stake, but it can also take place in more serious contests organized at the time of the village fête, played in doubles or triples (two or three players per team), or in full-fledged competitions.