Sunday, July 14, 2019

French Games for Bastille Day

In my recent book, Henrietta's Legacy, one of Henrietta's daughters is the parish secretary for Charleston's French Huguenot Church.  One of her ideas was to have the church put on a picnic as a  Bastille Day celebration. (That's today, July 14th, by the way) This passage describes some French games she and a friend came up with. You might want to try them if you are celebrating Bastille Day today.

The men of the parish can hold a pétanque tournament. It has room for two match fields and a children’s area for escargot and bilboquet. We can mark the fields with chalk that will wash away with the first rain. If you announce contests among our parishioners, people will flock there to play or watch.”
“Wait! Remember my deprived childhood. Pétanque is that game where men throw metal balls at a little wooden one, right? I watched them with my grandfather once. But the children’s games you mentioned—Escargot? Snails? Why are children’s games named for slimy things?”
“Because little boys love messes, and I imagine little girls do, too. Escargot is like hopscotch—ever play that?”
“Yes, sometimes.”
“All right. Escargot is like hopscotch in the shape of a snail.”
“A spiral?” 
“Yes, and it gets harder as the child moves toward the center because the landing blocks get smaller. I was never good at it because my feet were too big.”
“What was your favorite game . . . that other thing you mentioned . . . bilbo-something?”
Bilboquet. In English, a ball and cup. A string attaches the ball to the cup. The child tries to throw the ball up and catch it in the cup one-handed. You never had one of those?”
“No, but it doesn’t sound very challenging.”
“Ah, try it. You'll soon learn how difficult it is. I saw a whole box of those in the church attic when Reverend Howard and I were exploring. We’ll have contests, and you can try your hand.”

Want to read more? Henrietta's Legacy is available in both paperback and digital formats at:

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