Pétanque actually comes from the term ‘pès tancats’ or ‘pieds tanqués’, Marseilles dialect meaning literally ‘feet anchored’ as the feet must remain close together within quite a small circle.

It is one of the more sedate boule variations, deliberately so to accommodate the rheumatic and the disabled, as it can be played standing still or even from a wheelchair.

According to the rules of petanque, when a player loses 13 to 0 … “il est fanny” (he’s fanny) or “il a fait fanny” (he made fanny), and has to kiss the bottom of a girl called Fanny.

So what’s the story?

Some claim that Fanny was a waitress around the time of WW1, who would allow boule playing customers a sympathetic kiss on the cheek if they lost. One day, she literally turned the other cheek, no one knows why, and offered her bottom to a local…… who was somewhat embarrassed – but took up the challenge anyway!

The tradition of kissing Fanny goes way back – and is the ultimate humiliation for a boules player!!. Sometimes, a bell will be rung before the kiss, to ensure that everyone gathers round to watch the loser in defeat!

Others claim the origins of Fanny to be far earlier, based on posters and photos from the late 19th century.

Since it is quite rare to find an obliging fanny on the boules pitch, there is usually a substitute available in the form of a picture, or sculpture, to ensure that Fanny’s bottom is readily available.

If your name IS Fanny, my advice would be to avoid a stroll around the petanque pitches!

Or just go and enjoy!

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