French Honors Society enjoys a day out playing Pétanque

Club members play Pétanque, a French game where teams compete to roll plastic balls closest to a smaller white ball


Sarah Young

Most Petanque boules are made of metal and the objective is to roll them as close as possible to the jack or cochonnet a smaller white ball often made of wood. Photo by Sarah Young

Sarah Young, Graphics Editor

The worn red and green plastic balls rolled across the green terf past a smaller white ball while onlookers cheered. On the field, players crouched down low and hurtled the ball across the turf towards a smaller white ball. On Oct. 9, French Honors Society (FHS) club members went to the upper field to play a game of Petanque. Pétanque is a French game similar to bocce ball or boules, and is usually played in parks. It involves two teams consisting of three players each. The objective of the game involves throwing the balls, or boules, as close as possible to the small white or wooden ball known as a jack or cochonnet.

FHS hosted the event but, students outside of the club were also encouraged to join the game. Senior Alicia Chen, despite not being an official member of the club, has been to all of FHS’s meetings since freshman year. Chen enjoys club activities that promote French culture and language. 

“Well there’s not really a lot of French speakers around here … as compared to Spanish speakers,” Chen said. “I think [French Honors Society] is a great opportunity to just practice your conversational skills with other people who know the language.”

Chen also enjoys Pétanque due to the minimal skill level required to play the game. Pétanque has only six major rules: decide who goes first via a coin flip, the jack must be thrown within 20-30 feet from the starting circle, all boules must be thrown from within the circle with both feet planted on the ground and each team throws one at a time.

Sarah Young
In Petanque players remain in a small circle while doing their throw, in this case French Honors Society club members played from behind a white line. Photo by Sarah Young.

Additionally the team whose boules are closest to the jack wins; points are received for each boule closer to the jack then the opponents’, and after the first round the circle is drawn around the last position of the jack from the previous round. Pétanque allows many beginners to quickly pick up the game, and for FHS some of the rules have been simplified. This includes the position of the starting circle being changed to be a starting line.

One of the many beginning players was freshman Sach Dange, who joined the club in order to broaden her knowledge of French as well as learn more about French culture.

“I actually did not know that [Pétanque] was a French game — I always thought it was just an ordinary game that people played and it was actually pretty fun,” Dange said. “I’m a pretty competitive person, so I like the competitiveness of [Pétanque].”

Dange played alongside fellow member and freshman Kripa Mayureshewar against the officers of the club. Like Dange, Mayureshewar joined the club for similar reasons: experiencing French culture and practicing conversational skills.

“I think [FHS] provides a little bit more exposure into the cultures and traditions of French [people],” Mayureshewar said. “And it also gives you the chance to interact with upperclassmen who are more fluent [in French] than you are, so you can learn.”

FHS has played Pétanque every year, inviting new members to not only enjoy the game, but also attempt to converse in French. 

“It was a little bit more of exposure to the culture, so that was pretty nice,” Mayureshewar said. “I am looking forward to expanding my vocabulary a little bit more so I can eventually hold a conversation with someone [in] French.”

French Honors Society Petanque field day