THE WEEKLY HERALD   EVERETT, WASHINGTON
Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Edmonds becomes a pétanque destination

  • Seattle Pétanque Club member Philippe Geraud (left), of Bellevue, takes measurements to determine the boule (larger silver balls) closest to the cocho...

    Weekly Herald/CHRIS GOODENOW

    Seattle Pétanque Club member Philippe Geraud (left), of Bellevue, takes measurements to determine the boule (larger silver balls) closest to the cochonnet (small red ball) during a game May 12 at Civic Center Playfield in Edmonds. Geraud and other Seattle Pétanque Club members were visiting the newer Edmonds club during their practice to help train them in the finer points of the game. Waiting for the results are Seattle Pétanque Club member Linda Ferguson (background, center), of Renton, and Edmonds Pétanque Club member Bob Hetzel, of Edmonds.

  • Edmonds Pétanque Club member Dick van Hollebeke (right) tosses his boule in front of fellow member Mike Martin, both of Edmonds, during their game May...

    Weekly Herald/CHRIS GOODENOW

    Edmonds Pétanque Club member Dick van Hollebeke (right) tosses his boule in front of fellow member Mike Martin, both of Edmonds, during their game May 12 at Civic Center Playfield in Edmonds.

  • Edmonds Pétanque Club member Bob Hetzel (center), of Edmonds, tosses his boule in front of fellow members Richard (left) and Dorothy Lipsky, of Kenmor...

    Weekly Herald/CHRIS GOODENOW

    Edmonds Pétanque Club member Bob Hetzel (center), of Edmonds, tosses his boule in front of fellow members Richard (left) and Dorothy Lipsky, of Kenmore, during their game May 12 at Civic Center Playfield in Edmonds.

EDMONDS — On any given day a touch of France can be experienced in Edmonds. Out on the Civic Playfield anyone can say “bonjour” to the game of pétanque.
Pétanque (pronounced puh-tonk) is a French pastime played outdoors on a hard dirt or gravel court. The goal is to throw hollow metal balls, known as boules, as close as possible to a small wooden ball known as the cochonnet or jack. The game is akin to lawn bowling or Italian bocce ball.
Growing interest
Pétanque has taken such a hold in Edmonds that the city, along with the Edmonds Pétanque Club, has added three courts to the one that was installed in 2010 at Civic Playfield.
Just shy of two years ago, groups of up to 15 players stood waiting their turns on the single court. Now 25 or more players gather on a total of four courts.
More than 30 people are members of the Edmonds Pétanque Club, which charges an annual fee of $35. About three new members join the organization each week, club President Michelle Martin said. The club has 12 sponsors and more than 170 people on its mailing list.
“The people who join the club are looking to have a pleasant activity with fun,” Martin said. “It is an Edmonds kind of game – cross-gender and cross-age. The mix of people is amazing.”
Top courts in area
Because of the area's weather conditions, the Edmonds pétanque courts have to allow for drainage so players can toss the boules around on moister days. This design consideration makes the Edmonds courts some of the best in the Pacific Northwest.
The club is hosting its second annual Edmonds Petanque Club Tournament on June 10 at the Civic Playfield, at Sixth Avenue North and Bell Street.
Teams of two will be paired by drawing the day of the tournament. There will be cash prizes, including $200 for the winner.
“We are expecting people from Seattle, Kirkland and Port Townsend,” Martin said. “This tournament is not so much a competition as a fun event.”
Another tournament, to benefit the Edmonds Food Bank, is slated for Sept. 9.
How it's played
The team winning a coin toss is the first team up and tosses the cochonnet and the first boule. Then a player from the opposing team throws a boule. The team with the boule closest to the cochonnet is first up. That team continues to throw its boules until all are played. The opposing team then plays all its boules.
Once all boules are on the court, points are scored for the round. The winning team receives one point for each boule closer to the cochonnet than the opponent's best-placed boule. The winning team then begins the next round. The winner is the first team to reach 13 points.
Part of the game's strategy is to reposition the cochonnet and the opponent's boules over the course of a match.
There are two types of players: “shooters” are adept at knocking opponents' boules away, while “pointers” are skillful at rolling balls close to the target.
Want to try?
Those who want to try tossing a boule and learn about the game can contact the Edmonds Pétanque Club. Regular sessions are held at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays, and 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Sets of boules are available through the club for people to try before deciding if they want to buy their own.
The Edmonds Boys & Girls Club also has caught the pétanque bug, offering the game as part of its regular offerings. The club has donated boule sets for the children to use. One of the newest courts is adjacent to the club's building.
The club has been able to add courts thanks to grants from the Hubbard Family Foundation and design and construction work from city staff.
“The city staff has been so good to us,” Martin said.
Time to try pétanque
PRACTICE: The Edmonds Pétanque Club holds regular practices, with members available to coach and supply boules. Practices are on Wednesdays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. and on Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. All practices are at the Civic Playfield, Sixth Avenue North and Bell Street, in Edmonds.
COMPETE: The Edmonds Pétanque Club's second annual tournament is scheduled for June 10 at the Civic Playfield in Edmonds (Sixth Avenue North and Bell Street). Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the competition starts at 10 a.m. The registration fee is $20 and the winner gets a cash prize of $200.
For more details, visit http://EdmondsPetanqueClub.org.