A mène (pronounced like the English word “men”) is the petanque equivalent of a round in boxing or an inning in baseball. Roughly speaking, a mene consists of three activities – placing the circle and throwing the jack, throwing the boules, and the agreement of points.
The most literal English translation for the French noun mène is “direction”, as in— During a mène the teams play in one direction, and then during the next mène they play in the other direction. The English version of the FIPJP rules translates mène as “end”, borrowing from curling terminology in which an “end” is defined as “A portion of a curling game that is completed when each team has thrown eight stones and/or the score has been decided.” Compare this to the explanation in the 1971 Canadian Petanque Federation rules booklet–
When all of the players have played all of their boules, we say that they have played a mène. A game is composed of whatever number of mènes is necessary for one of the teams to score a winning number of points.
The FIPJP’s choice of “end”, however, is regrettable. Very few people are familiar with curling terminology, and using “end” this way leads to such unfortunate locutions as “the end of the end”.
A case can be made for translating mène into English as frame. “Frame” is used, for instance, in American bowling and in bocce. (See Mario Pagnoni’s The Joy of Bocce, 4th edition, p. 34). “Round” (as in: a round of drinks, a round in a boxing match) is probably the most natural English translation of mène, and many Anglophone petanque players refer to mènes as “rounds”. In our opinion, the best way to deal with the word mène is to treat it as a petanque technical term and not to translate it at all. Every sport has its own specialized terminology for the subdivisions of a game. Tennis has sets, baseball has innings, boxing has rounds, football has quarters, bowling has frames. Why shouldn’t petanque have mènes? We can make one concession to English-language spelling conventions— we can omit the accent on the è and write simply “mene“.
When does a mene start and finish?
There are two situations in which it is necessary to know the precise definitions of the start or the end of a mene.
- When a player arrives late. A late-arriving player cannot join the game while the current mene is in progress. He must wait until the start of the next mene before he can join the game.
- In time-limited games, when you hear the whistle (bell, whatever) signaling the end of the time-limit. At that point you may need to decide whether the last mene in progress has finished, or whether a new mene has begun yet
Note that answers to these two questions are NOT related, and are NOT to be found in the same set of rules.
Regarding the first situation, the FIPJP rules say that a mene starts with the successful throw (or placement) of the jack. The word “successful” here is important. Suppose that Bob throws the jack, but he throws it too far, and then the time-limit is announced. The mene is NOT considered to have begun because the jack has not yet been thrown (or placed) successfully.
The second situation does not involve the FIPJP rules of petanque at all. It is part of the rules for conducting time-limited games. These rules are set by the organizers of the competition, and different competitions may have different rules. Popular choices include—
- A mene is considered to start after the first boule of the mene has been thrown.
- A mene is considered to start after the last boule of the previous mene has been thrown.
- A mene is considered to start after the points have been decided, at the end of the previous mene.
The bottom line is that if you are playing a time-limited game in a competition, you need to find out what the rules are for that competition.
Cette porte mène à la cave.
This door leads to the cellar.
This door goes to the cellar.
This door takes you to the cellar.
When mène is used as a noun— la mène— the most literal English translation is probably “a direction”, as in “This door is the way to the cellar. This door is the direction to the cellar.”