Feeling a little French? Amelia Island is the home of largest pétanque club in the nation. Have some pastis then head to the pétanque courts in Downtown Fernandina Beach. Amelia Island Boules Club holds pétanque pickup games Saturdays at 9:30am and Wednesdays at 3:30pm at the Fernandina Beach pétanque courts at the south end of the downtown marina on Front Street and at Central Park on Atlantic Avenue between 11th Street and 14th Street.
The French Provençal game of pétanque was virtually unknown in northeast Florida before Philippe Boets introduced the game to Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach. Boets relocated his company Pétanque America from North Carolina to the island and organized the first The Pétanque America International Open Tournament in 2009. The annual tournament draws players from around the nation and the world to Amelia Island.
Pétanque (pronounced pay-tonk) originated in the South of France in the early 1900’s and is a distant cousin of both horseshoes and bocce, the Italian bowling game. In pétanque, players toss or roll a number of hollow steel balls (boules) as close as possible to a small, wooden target ball, called but or cochonnet (French for piglet). The team that ends up closest to the target ball once all balls are played is wins.
Unlike horseshoes, where the aim stake is fixed, the target ball can be hit (and thus moved) in pétanque at any time, which can upset the score at the last second. While official bocce rules call for a smooth, prepared court with markers and sideboards, pétanque can be played on most outdoor surfaces, without any setup. No special skill is required and the game is simple, relaxing and fun for players of all ages.
Reservations are open for the 11th annual Pétanque Tournament held Nov. 10-12 at the downtown marina in Fernandina Beach. The tournament is open to two-man teams (doubles). Beginners, amateurs, advanced players and champions all compete in a single for the $10,000 purse. For more information call (904) 491-1190 or visit Amelia Island Boules Club Facebook page. pétanque courts are located at Pétanque America, 1438 East Oak St in Fernandina Beach (491-1190).