Celebrity Petanque

Supermodel Karolina Kurkova (second left) beside actors Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger during a game of boules at the Chanel party in St-Tropez in May. Photograph: MaxPPP/PacificCoastNews.com

“Forget the image of boules (or pétanque, as it is more properly known) as the game of old men in string vests. Suddenly, it’s becoming the height of cool – and not just in France.”

This is so funny and cool to me. The first time I ever heard of the game pétanque was on The Cosby Show! Cliff Huxtable had a set up in the backyard where he played with his dad one episode. The next time I thought about it was more than 15 years later, driving through a small village in France with Jean-Michel. We saw a public park in the middle of town with a few games set up in the middle of the day. The players were men who looked to be retirement age. I don’t remember string vests, but maybe they were wearing them! Leave it to young Hollywood to resurrect a half-forgotten pasttime and make it cool again. Pétanque looks a little like lawn bowling from a distance, but the balls are smaller and heavier. They don’t really roll. It’s played more like horseshoes.

“The principles of pétanque are as old as history. Archaeologists found two balls and a jack in the sarcophagus of an Egyptian prince buried in the 52nd century BC. The ancient Greeks and Romans liked playing with stone balls; medieval Europeans preferred wooden ones studded with nails. Boules became so popular in France that the game was banned for commoners for much of the 14th and 15th centuries. Here, successive English kings from the time of Edward III forbade their archers to play it, and an act not repealed until the 18th century formally outlawed the game for “artificers, labourers, apprentices and servants” at any time except Christmas.”

Read the full story at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/28/france-boules-petanques-got-cool