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  • Writer's pictureDavid Viney

Square Boules Championship in Cagnes-sur-Mer

Updated: May 11

Pétanque, or boules as it is more commonly known abroad, is practically a provençal institution. This iconic French ball game can be played on just about any dusty, gritty surface, and at any time of year. It is played throughout France but it's most commonly associated with the south having been invented in La Ciotat, near Marseilles.

All this you know, of course. What you may not be familiar with is the square boules variety; played in Haut-de-Cagnes; the medieval hill village in the centre of Cagnes sur Mer. Quirky I know, but there is a (practical) reason: the streets here are too steep to play regular boules, so in 1979 a member of the local "Cercle des Amis" club invented a variant with balls (or rather wooden cubes) that wouldn’t roll. Eh voilà! Pétanque carrée!

Pétanque carrée
Pétanque carrée

43rd Edition of the Championnat du monde de Boules Carrées

So, as someone who once won an U15 county Hammer Throw gold medal because I was the only person stupid enough to take part, this is what I am thinking: could this be my opportunity to be a world champion? Perhaps you are thinking the same. Well 42 editions later, and the championship is now indeed attended by players from across the world (including clubs from France, Belgium, Italy, and the United States).

The championship is played in two adjacent streets on the montée de la Bourgade, both uphill and down. This year the event is sponsored by Château le Cagnard (a local hotel) and other local businesses.

Official 2018 Boules Carrees Tournament Poster © Eric Garence
Official 2018 Boules Carrees Tournament Poster © Eric Garence

Review of the 42nd World Square Bowl Championship - 2023

Held under a hot sun on the penultimate weekend of August (in temperatures over 40 degrees), the 2023 Championship was a real test of perseverance for the 146 teams (and 555 players) taking part.

The awards were as follows:

  • World Championships (146 teams)

    • Champions: BARBI Yannick, MUNOZ Cédric and MORETTO Vincent

    • Finalists: BARBI Thierry, BARBI Pierre and PROVENCAL Romain

  • The Idéo challenge (39 teams)

    • Winners: MASSENA Fred, MASSENA Manu and NASSIF Thierry

    • Finalists: TABO Michel, TABO Mireille and REYDON Pierre

A Video Taster

As you can imagive, the event often features as the "fun item at the end of the News" so gets lots of French TV coverage. This nice little video from the 2022 event gives you an idea of the format and the vibe:

How to Get there

  • By train: Cagnes-sur-Mer railway station is located on the Marseille–Ventimiglia railway, between Cannes and Nice. The station is served by regional (TER) trains to Cannes, Grasse, Antibes and Nice. Timetables here.

  • By car/bus: Leave the A8 Autoroute at Exits 47/48 signed 'Cahnes-sur-Mer' and follow directions for Centre-Ville. Leave your car in one of the many parking lots in the city centre and use the free shuttle bus (n° 44) to reach Haut-de-Cagnes (the medieval centre). Timetable here:



With stunning panoramic views, private pool, super-fast broadband and modern air-conditioning, Haute Vue is a large Holiday Villa with panoramic views in Montauroux; just 45 minutes drive from the tournament site. Sleeping 10/12 in 5/6 bedrooms, it is the perfect central base for a holiday in the South of France; close to the beautiful perched villages of Provence and in easy reach of the beaches and sights of the sparkling Côte d'Azur.

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