The origin of the word pétanque means “feet stuck on the ground,” according to Cardona. “That means you don’t move your feet when you play,” he said.
Players divide up into teams of two with up to three players each. From a circle drawn on the ground, a player starts the game by tossing out a small ball called a “cochonnet” (French for “piglet”).
Rather than wooden balls used in Bocce Ball, players take turns throwing steel balls approximately the size of the palm of the hand. The goal is to throw the steel balls closest to the cochonnet. The first team to 13 wins.
Cardona said that in southern France where pétanque originated, town squares similar to the Marietta Square usually have a pétanque field, often with multiple courts.
“In France, you play pétanque anywhere there is a flat area,” he said, explaining that players look for level terrain with gravel that is not too soft or sandy so that the balls can roll.
Pétanque is a competitive game in France.
“It’s less social in France and more of a strategy game than when we play here,” he said.
Cyrille met his American-born wife, Courtney, in Paris. They lived in Arlington, Va., until they moved to Cobb County in 2005. They have a two children, Amelie, 9, and Lucas, 6.
Cardona recently installed a pétanque court made of dirt and crushed gravel in the backyard of his home.
“(The space) was perfect. Everybody’s enjoying (the pétanque court) — not just the French but also many of my American friends. They just love it,” he said.
The Cardonas often entertain around the pétanque court. They recently hosted their French dinner group, “Rabelais,” made up of Francophiles and Francophones that meet once a month at different members homes in the Cobb area.
“We do (Rabelais) on a Sunday afternoon so we can play pétanque,” Cardona said.
Since Cardona only visits France every two years, pétanque is a way for him to feel at home in Marietta. “Pétanque is in my blood. It reminds me of home. It’s real relaxing. It’s just a fun game to play,” he said. “Pétanque is something that we play all the time. I cannot live without it.”