French Club closes the year with pétanque matches


Photo by Deeksha Raj. Graphic illustration by Anushka Anand.

Lynbrook and Miller students get together to close the year off with a game of petánque.

Deeksha Raj, Business Manager

To conclude a successful year full of engaging events such as Mardi Gras, club socials and more, students taking French hosted their first pétanque social in four years on May 22, where members played the popular outdoor French game. French Club worked closely with French teachers and other French students to host this event. In the company of Miller Middle School French students, French Club members came together in the quad to enjoy pétanque with friends and complimentary snacks such as crepes and cookies.

In pétanque, teams try to throw boules, small metallic balls, as close as possible to the but, a little wooden sphere. The word “pétanque” means “foot fixed” or “foot planted,” because the position of the but is fixed once it is thrown and the other players must match its fixed distance. A complete pétanque team often consists of three or more players playing one of the following three positions:  a “pointeur” who should be best at getting the boules nearest to the but, a “tireur” who knocks down opposing balls and a “milieu”, the team captain. Among French Club members, most upperclassmen were assigned as the milieu, while underclassmen and Miller students were the pointeur or tireur.

I like the idea of spreading French culture and exposing it to new people.

— Sarasvati Bhat, French Club Activities Director

“I like the idea of  spreading French culture,” French Club Activities director Sarasvati Bhat said. “I like exposing it to new people because a lot of people don’t know much about French culture; all they know is what they see in TV shows and movies like ‘Ratatouille’.” 

The game was created in the town of La Ciotat in Provence, France, in 1907 by Jules le Noir and Ernest Pitiot. Pétanque gained widespread popularity in the 20th century and eventually became known worldwide, evolving into a beloved recreational activity and international competitive sport. 

“It’s also important that we include the Miller French students in more events because there are not a lot of French students at Lynbrook and we are all a community,” Bhat said. “Since the Miller kids will join us in a couple years, it is good for us to be introduced sooner.”

The event was run by the current French Club officers who wanted to bring it back after its past cancellations due to COVID-19 concerns and lack of interest. This year, a couple French students wanted to spontaneously host the event so they quickly pulled it together within two weeks. French teachers also offered their students extra credit to attend. During the event, French students were assigned into small groups of six to eight people and learned the rules from posters.

“It was so much fun,” said Grace Lin, an eighth grade student from Miller Middle School. “I like meeting high schoolers and playing the game, even though I wasn’t good at it.” 

One challenge the hosts faced during the event was a lack of clarity regarding the rules of the game. Attendees were expected to come to the event with basic knowledge on how to play the game so they could help teach the middle schoolers; however, many people came without knowing the rules of pétanque. However, after a brief explanation at the start of the event, the attendees understood the game. 

During the 2023-24 school year, French Club hopes to continue hosting similar events. Since they have already enjoyed playing pétanque together, they want to try out playing other French games like Escargot (Snail) and Jeu de la barbichette (Game of the Goatee).