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Food / Wine

A day of sun and fun at the Ricard Pétanque Tournament

By Rebecca Connell

On Saturday 19th June, London’s pétanque enthusiasts eagerly gathered in the Chelsea Physic Garden for Ricard’s annual Pétanque Tournament. Being one of them, I, of course, was there as well.

Although the tournament is now in its 3rd year, it was the first time that the organisers had decided to hold it in the Chelsea Physic Garden, and it was easy to see why: situated just off Cheyne Walk, the garden is a haven of tranquillity and beauty.
The games begin!
The games begin!
Wanting to get a head start, I walked in at 11 o’clock, only to see that the keenest of the players were already there and practicing, impatiently waiting for the games to begin. Slightly intimidated by their skills, I decided it would probably be best to wait a bit until more people came, that way I could at least attempt to hide my less-than-impressive boules technique behind them. So instead, I took the opportunity to wander around the garden. With the French band playing, the garden tables layed out, the food and drinks marquee all set up, and the sun even agreeing to shine, I was already feeling the French summer vibe… all I needed now to complete the scene was for the clock to strike 12 so that I could have my first glass of Ricard!
The French jazz band
The French jazz band

As the morning went on, the crowds kept coming. The games were heating up, Ricard panamas were slowly filling the garden, and the first merguez and steak sandwiches were sizzling on the BBQ ready to satisfy the players’ appetites.


Merguez being cooked up for the hungry playersDelicious food for the hungry players

Delicious food for the hungry players

Walking around it was fantastic to see the mix of people who had turned up. It was a completely different sight to the Southern French pétanque squares usually filled with older men whiling away the afternoon. Young and old where present, and with the traditional French game being played in an English botanical garden, and Ricard and Merguez being served: this was a cultural as well as a generational hotpot!

By mid-afternoon, the tournament was in full swing. The serious players were getting competitive, whilst the less enclined ones were now reclining on the grass or sitting happily at tables eating their pancakes and happily sipping their various Ricard based drinks: Grenadine and mint infused, or topped up with coke, a variety was on offer (my personal favourite was the grenadine).
Players sampling the "tomate" and the "perroquet"
Players sampling the "tomate" and the "perroquet"
Finally, the winners of the day were announced, and the lucky team were presented with their Ricard trophy by none other than French international rugby star Serge Betsen, who had come to enjoy the festivities with his family.

The tense finalAfter a tense 
final, the lucky  winners collect their Ricard trophy from Betsen

After a tense final, the lucky winners collect their Ricard trophy from Betsen
I can safely say that this was a great day out, and by the look of the amount of people who came to take part in the fun, I am not the only one who enjoyed it. More than 800 filled the garden throughout the day.
Next year, be sure to come along!
Eleonore proudly representing Franceinlondon alongside Serge Betsen and Pernaud Ricard's Jean-Manuel Spriet
Eleonore proudly representing Franceinlondon alongside Serge Betsen and Pernaud Ricard's Jean-Manuel Spriet


20/03/2012 - kraina-zabaw said :

God help me, I put aside a whole afetornon to figure this out.

11/12/2011 - yogaspace said :

Unbeilevalbe how well-written and informative this was.

14/09/2010 - ldoultremont said :

You look great Eléonore !
Good work !!

20/07/2010 - anna171 said :

haha, me and Jen are famous!! Two dancing chics!


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