Millions of holidays are currently in limbo thanks to quarantine measures, and with so many France holidays ‘annule’ our yearly boules fix is suddenly under threat.
But anything France can do, Britain can do better. With the exceptions of food, wine, weather, sex scandals and service stations. And in the absence of a summer playing boules (or pétanque if you’re in Provence) London is up to the challenge of providing alternatives.
So grab your balls, we’re off to find some fine gravel…
Here for a season, Pastis & Pétanque on Sloane Square brings the best of France straight to SW3 with pétanque right in the centre of the square courtesy of Colbert and Royal Court Theatre and is part of ‘Court on the Square’, a pop-up café making the most of the summer weather by serving wines and Lillet Spritzers from the bar.
Pétanquers can show up at the pop-up until the end of September.
Where: Sloane Square, SW3
The Prince of Wales pub in Kennington is a great little traditional boozer, always full of interesting people, locals, MPs and boules players.
Because their secret weapon is pétanque in Cleaver Square. They’ll set you up with plastic pint glasses and you can drink and ‘plink’ at will.
Where: Cleaver Square, Kennington, SE11 4EA
Hidden behind a children’s playground and close to London Zoo, you could easily miss Regent’s Park boules. Amidst the classically laid out gardens of Regent’s Park, the epitome of the English country garden, lie two lanes that are forever French.
The boules pitch is open during daylight hours and there’s no need to book or pay. Parfait!
Where: On Prince Albert Road by the Children’s Playground opposite the Zoo
Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens
Vauxhall is known for many things, but pleasure isn’t necessarily at the top of the list (one-way-gyratory-system I’m looking at you). But by rights it should be as it’s been on the map for centuries.
The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens were founded in 1785, but while they might not have retained their Vanity Fair style and class, they do have a redeeming feature: playing boules in the shadow of MI6. Look out for men in macs exchanging briefcases while you play…
Where: Tyers Street, Vauxhall, SE11 5HL
Head to Borough’s Hays Galleria to enjoy some all-year round Petaneque-ing thanks to the enormous glass roof on this former Port of London warehouse.
Part of Ball’s Brother’s Alexander Hay pub, enjoy a pint and then get your boules on.
Where: Battle Bridge Lane, Borough, SE1 2HD
Provence-themed Baranis, on Chancery Lane, claims to have the only indoor pétanque court in the UK (Hays Galleria might have beef with this).
An evening at Baranis must include dinner at Provencal and Corsican restaurant Cigalon and beaucoup, beaucoup pétanque.
Where: 115 Chancery Lane, Holborn, WC2A 1PP