Every summer, a gentle, metallic clacking sound rings from gardens and public squares all over France. The reason? A simple ball game called pétanque, invented 100 years ago when a certain Jules Lenoir found himself unable to play his favorite jeu provençal (a game of boules in which each player must hop and jump before throwing), and so came up with a new form of the sport, where both feet must be together on the ground (“pieds tanqués”). Though it’s a professional, spectator sport, which since 1945 has had its own national federation in France (the Fédération Française de Petanque et de Jeu Provençal), pétanque is also a national pastime—and a symbol of the lackadaisical days of August, during which everyone in France takes a long holiday. Today on NOWNESS we offer a peak at a super-exclusive “party among friends” (the theme: “pétanque chic”) hosted by champagne makers Veuve Clicquot
this month, ahead of the many pétanque tournaments the company organizes around France each year to celebrate Bastille Day (July 14). Photographer Olivier Amsellem, whose work includes fashion editorials for cult Australian periodical Doingbird
, was entranced by the surreal qualities of the party’s location, the Nissim de Camondo in Paris, a sumptuous historic residence built in 1911 by Parisian banker and art collector Moïse de Camondo. From off-kilter images of the event’s bubble-like pavilions reflected in an antique mirror to action shots of the game itself, Amsellem’s story is a tribute to the bliss of summertime in Paris—toasted, of course, with plenty of champagne!