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Lesson Transcript

Who's Up for a Good Old-Fashioned French Game of Pétanque?!
In this lesson, we’re going to learn about the French national sport called Pétanque. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 12 - Who's Up for a Good Old-Fashioned French Game of Pétanque?!
We cannot talk about France without mentioning its national sport. And what sport is that? It’s La pétanque, of course! You might have already heard about this fun-filled activity, but if not, listen carefully to this lesson.
Pétanque is a game where players must throw metal balls which are around seven hundred grams, and 7.5 centimeters in diameter as close as possible to another target ball, called le cochonet. This game is often played in teams of two, in French une doublette, or three against three, which would be called une triplette. However, it’s also possible to play one on one.
Each player possesses three balls. To win a point, or in French point, your team must be the closest to the target ball. If another of your balls is even closer than the closest of your opponent's balls, you'll score one more point, and so on. The first team to score thirteen points is the winner.
It is a popular game for families to play from time to time, especially in summer after sharing a meal. It’s usually played on a specific terrain made of sand or fine gravel. Almost all towns in France have a pétanque ground, called terrain de pétanque, laid out somewhere around town. The truly dedicated players even set up a ground of their own in their garage or courtyard.
Some challengers like to try to make the game harder, playing in the grass or on a steeper terrain, which also adds fun and laughter. Amateur players also find it fun to talk “pétanque jargon,” the specialized vocabulary used by professional pétanque players. Once in a while you might hear lots of these words shouted about town on Sundays around France. Maybe the most important of these is the word carreau, which is a move consisting of throwing your own ball directly in place of your opponent's in one throw, making sure that your own ball doesn't move off the taken place.
Even if people aren’t good at this sport, they have lots of fun joking about their friends’ or family’s performance. You may even find some people talking about the “lazy inhabitants of Marseille”, because they use a magnet at the end of a string to pick up the balls so they don’t have to lean over. If you happen to be in a situation like this though, be careful! You must know who is okay with taking a joke when talking about pétanque!
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
What is the national sport where you live?
Until next time!