For a shift in gears, here are a couple of photographs made yesterday at the northwestern corner of Bryant Park in New York City, where aficionados meet almost daily to play bocce or pétanque.
Pétanque is a French game of “boules”, where each player strives to throw metal balls as close as possible to a smaller wooden ball, named the “cochonnet”. Game strategies include “pointing” when a player throws his ball to have it roll as close to the cochonnet as possible, and “shooting” when a player aims for the ball of an opponent, hoping to move him out of a favorable spot.
Bocce is a sport similar to the boules, bowls or pétanque family,with an ancient ancestry dating back to the Roman Empire. It was developed into its present form in Italy, and naturally was exported to other countries that received Italian migrants.
In the South of France, this game (or sport) evolved into a regional activity virtually synonymous with Provence...a little pastis and a game of pétanque is what locals do. Anyone who watched the wonderful French films Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources will surely recall how the game was described in the memoirs of novelist Marcel Pagnol.