Tossing Balls

Jean-François Duclos couldn't mask a snide chuckle when I mistakenly referred to pétanque as a sport. "It's more like an outdoor activity," the executive director of Alliance Française said in his thick French accent. When I then asked him if this game — in which players toss shiny steel balls — was the same "outdoor activity" I once saw men playing around the Eiffel Tower in Paris, he said it was.

You could liken pétanque to tossing bean bags on the front lawn of a frat house, but a more accurate comparison would be to bocce. Practiced mostly in southern France, it's a game best played in the shade. This afternoon at 2:30 p.m., Alliance Française and Le Central welcome the curious to come join their new Pétanque Club. "It will be an informal, outdoor afternoon where everyone will be able to either learn or practice pétanque," Duclos said.

The event is free and takes place on the terrain next to Alliance Française, 571 Galapago Street; future programs and competitions should follow. To find information and the rules of the game, go to
Sat., May 12, 2:30 p.m.