France is one of the most famous destinations in the world, but how much do you actually know about the country’s history? Napoleon and The French Revolution. Coco Chanel and Jean-Paul Gaultier. The Eiffel Tower and expensive wines. The country has lots of fun facts for visitors to discover, including traditional games that marked French society and influenced world entertainment.
Originating from a coin-tossing pastime in 6 B.C. Greece, the game of boules or pétanque uses one small ball or any item that can serve as a target for the two opposing teams. Each player has around two or three larger balls, traditionally made of metal, which they have to toss in order to either get as near to the target as possible or knock an opponent’s ball out of the way. After a few rounds, the team that gets the closest wins. According to The Good Life France, boules is the type of traditional game encountered in every park or open space. But the rules may vary from region to region.
France has also played a big role in the development of other types of entertainment. It was here, for example, that the Queen card replaced the Nobleman in the 16th century and has remained a major figure in a range of card games, like Hearts and Queen of Spades. The French mathematician and physicist Blaise Paschal can also be credited as being the inventor of roulette in its primitive form. While trying to make a ‘perpetual motion machine’, he instead invented the roulette table. Since then, the world now enjoys upgraded and digitalized versions of the famous ‘accidental’ game, with the wheels now finding themselves major players on most online casino sites, such as the popular online roulette games at Aspers Casino, as well as still being a major draw at every land-based casino.
The origins of the French Open can be traced back to a game played by monks in 11th or 12th-century France. Live About describes jeu de paume, or “game of the hand”, as involving a ball being thrown at a wall or over a rope. As the sport grew in popularity, the bare hand was eventually equipped with the first-ever tennis racquet. The more the sport evolved and fascinated French and English nobility, the faster it was established as several other countries’ national sport, leading to the first Wimbledon tournament in 1877, the first French Open in 1891, and many more prestigious championships around the world.
Cycling through the beautiful French countryside or the streets of Paris is a tourist’s dream and also a historic part of French culture. History pinpoints the Tour de France’s exact birthplace; the Au Reveil Matin café in Montgeron was the starting point for 60 expert cyclists, who, in 1903, pedalled their hobby into one the biggest annual sports events of the 21st century. Today, Its legacy encourages more and more people to take up cycling, especially considering the advanced professional, and also much more convenient, equipment available today. Locals and visitors can be seen riding through France’s mapped out routes and hidden paths, across cities and valleys, many the same as those traversed by those cyclists in 1903.
The best way to get to know any culture and its people is by engaging equally with their history and culture. When in France, why not join in a game of boules or tennis? Have a laugh and some good exercise, while immersing yourself in the country’s spirit.