Fr Cn De Es Pt It

VIII - The Petanque Grounds

Painting by Jean-Marc Guéroux

A former waste ground next to the Moulin de la Galette was bequeathed to the town hall of the 18th arrondissement by a generous Montmartre resident on the condition that the piece of land – that promoters tried in vain to purchase – would be reserved for games of petanque for his fellow petanque aficionados and their Montmartre friends.

In Elisa’s eyes, the Butte of Montmartre was an island paradise within the already beautiful City of Lights. The petanque grounds represented the very essence of the spirit of this Butte. It was to the neighbourhood what royal jelly is to honey or what the high C of Nathalie Dessay is to an aria by Mozart…

The only structure was a small “shack” where the petanque players could sit down and enjoy a snack or a good bottle of wine between two sets.

The few primroses planted around the trees were as lovable as the flower tamed by the Little Prince. And a few unmatched chairs were used by the friends of the petanque players to watch the games.

Peace and quiet. The pleasure of living. Being together. And enjoying friendship.

Elisa had come here with Jym. There was nothing here, except everything that mattered: peace, simplicity, moments of pleasure…

At the entry, the members of the “club” planted a tree shoot just 20 cm high and it had become the highlight of the minimalist décor of the grounds: a tree with blue flowers surrounding the entry gate.

No one knew what it was called, but it thrived here as much as the players did. They called it a “Japanese ficus”, just to give it a name. It was part of the club and blossomed with joy four times a year.

When Elisa came to the grounds for the second time, trying to discreetly take part of the ambience of this rare world, the players spotted her from their makeshift headquarters and came out to kiss her on the cheeks. She apologised for the intrusion and was about to leave. She hadn’t realised that the men would be there.

But they cordially asked her to stay and urged her to play a game, opening the door to this enchanting spot with no motives other than shared enjoyment...

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