Mondial La Marseillaise A Petanque

Semifinal on the central court at Vieux Port

Semifinal 2006 on the central court at Vieux Port (Author: Schildt)

In July 2017, we (Lionel Pujol, Tony Stojsic and I) participated in the biggest international petanque competition in the world: Le  Mondial La Marseillaise à Pétanque. Held in Marseille over 5 days every July, anyone can come and play. Last year the numbers were slightly down – only about 4,700 teams participated (!!). When you lose a game, you’re out.

Even so, the organisers still had to find pistes for some 2,350 matches in the first round. We played in the carpark of a soccer stadium about 25 minutes north of the centre of Marseille (shuttle buses took us – great atmosphere on the buses) with 94 other matches going on at the same time. Our “piste” N° 95 was rocky, sloping, and more or less triangular, and had a metal manhole cover in the middle of it which made a loud bonging sound when a boule bounced on it. You live with it – that’s pétanque.

We won our first match which was a huge high, then were trounced in the second. It didn’t matter – we had no illusions about our chances: even at local club level, the quality of play is much higher over there – we were at La Marseillaise and the atmosphere was terrific. There was loud rock music, pastis, beer and other beverages flowing freely, plenty of merguez in baguettes (trans.: sausage sandwiches, but REALLY good ones), matches being played on every available surface, tens of thousands of people, great camaraderie. It was a huge fabulous celebration and all of us were there thanks to pétanque.

Tory McBride  (Prospect Petanque Club)

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