In the midst of my moving preparation, I found the time to read a relatively short memoir about a Canadian man who moved to Saint Paul de Vence to work in IT. The book is called Uncorked: My Year in Provence Studying Pétanque , Discovering Chagall, Drinking Pastis, and Mangling French. He tells the story of how he fell in love with game of pétanque and convinced a local man to teach him to play in the dark of night. Eventually, the man embraced him as a partner, and he became one of the locals playing pétanque by the cafe and ignoring tourists.
Here's the beginning of Chapter 1:
The French word bisou is used to describe the charming manner in which the French greet one another with a ceremonial kiss on both cheeks. This act should not be mistaken for a sign of real affection or even friendship but rather as a refreshingly warm way of saying hello or goodbye.
As tourists in France, we foreigners have all been witness to these tiny gifts, but rarely do we gain admittance into the tightknit club of the 60 million or so people who exchange them.... Receiving and delivering countless bisous during my year in the magical Cote d'Azur village of Saint-Paul de Vence made me feel a sense of "limited belonging," but when my neighbor, friend, and, most importantly, pétanque coach, Hubert bid me farewell by initiating a bisou, after my last match and last pastis as a local, it gave me pause to reflect on how close I had become to this part of the world, its people, its culture, and the game I fell in love with the minute I first laid eyes on it: pétanque!
I loaned the book to Earl on Kindle so he can read it too. Hope it doesn't make him fear playing pétanque in France. It's mean to encourage him.
How about you? Have you ever played pétanque or boules as it is called in other parts of France? What about receiving or giving a bisou? Have you experienced that?
I'd love it if you shared your experience.
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