Once the preserve of pastis-sipping retirees of Provence, the French pastime of pétanque, or boules, has become a surprise hit among the country’s youth amid a fashion for all things retro and a desire for simple, “authentic” pleasures, say experts.
Among France’s 302,000 registered boules players, some eight per cent are now “minors”, according to the FFPJP, the French Federation of Pétanques and Jeu Provençal – a sister sport.
“The young trend has taken off,” according to FFPJP spokesman Clément Meneghin, who said one of the key reasons was that pétanque is now played in PE sessions in many schools.
Schools are not the only breeding ground for future pétanque players; boules clubs in French universities are all the rage while many young workers slope off to a gravelly “terrains” during their lunch breaks to relax.
“Contrary to many group sports, pétanque brings together girls and boys with no pre-conceived ideas about the game,” said Mr Meneguin.
“We see more and more (young people) in competitions, Nicolas Fourrage, 20, a serious bouliste, told Le Parisien newspaper.