I’m not sure where or when my affinity with French things started, possibly it stemmed from the love I had for my first Lacoste track-suit top or the coveted beige Le Coq Sportif woolly jumper I owned that went oh so well with my wrangler semi-flares (back when those things mattered). Maybe it was my first sip of pith-tastic Orangina or the Croque Monsieur I munched on whilst holidaying in Frejus. Or it could very well have been the pouty charms of Vanessa Paradis and Béatrice ‘Betty Blue’ Dalle that lured me in.
Whatever it was that sparked off my Francophilic leanings, I do know that my fondness for the French was set in stone several years later when I worked in France for a couple of seasons as a holiday rep. Becoming more enamoured by French culture as I made each tentative foray into local life, drinking Pastis in the local PMU bar, trying to learn the words to the Gainsbourg songs played on le radio, gradually getting on nodding terms with the local rabbit hunters and of course playing petanque in the town square. Petanque, or boules as British French teachers like to refer to it, is a sport not dis-similar to our very own darts. In that many of its more skilled participants like a drink or trois and as a result tend to resemble portly sculptor Obelix from the oh-so-French Asterix cartoons. I instantly fell in love with this sociable and impromptu game so much so that I played it on beaches, car parks, country lanes and even a grave-yard (its what he would have wanted). A truly beautiful game, combining all the skill of golf but without the constant walking/bad trousers and all the drama of a penalty shoot out but with none of your celebratory kissing or bullock-cupping antics. Its also a genuinely communal game that tends to encourage lots of banter, winding up, laughing and leg-pulling, providing an ideal way of getting gradually drunk with your mates as the sun sets over a soundtrack of displaced gravel and metallic clicks.
So imagine my surprise when I recently came across a trainer (another of my passions) dedicated to this most noble and Gallic of outdoor pursuits, step forward Le Coq Sportif’s ‘Provencale’ shoe. Named so because both the game and its name (petanque is the local dialect for ‘feet anchored‘) originate in this particularly beautiful part of Southern France. Like the game itself, the shoe is both understated and tres cool, featuring a little metal button logo on the side representing the ball and an elastic tab on the back as a nod to the braces worn by the old fellas that can be seen playing the game throughout France. Available in canvas or leather and in low or hi-top versions, this smart chaussure means you now have no excuse for wearing flip-flops and breaking your toes the next time you try and integrate with the locals on your French holiday.
Available from Size? http://size.co.uk/product/le-coq-sportif-provencale/72711/