Postcard of a petanque "Fanny"There is one in virtually every sports bar in Provence: a beautiful bare-bottomed Fanny. If you emerge from a pétanque match at the wrong end of a 13:0 score, you have "done a Fanny" and these rosy cheeks await your kiss.

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A ceremonial bell will be rung to mark the magnificence of your defeat, and then you will buy everyone an apéritif. "Fanny paie à boire!"

According to legend, the original Fanny was an obliging café waitress who allowed losers at pétanque to kiss her on the cheek. On one occasion, the village mayor lost a match.

Stepping up eagerly to claim his prize, he was presented instead with her bottom. Ever since, kissing Fanny has been the booby prize of boules: the loser's forfeit (or, depending on how you look at it, the reward).

Since a real Fanny is, sadly, not always available, pétanque courts and sports bars keep a painting or wall-sculpture ever-handy to perform the honours. Some might find these images pornographic. Some might find them sexist. (Sometimes Fanny is decorously hidden behind a curtain.)

But they're all part of the bawdy good-humour and bandinage attending the not-so-gentle game of pétanque in Provence.

Whether she takes the form of a Gallic Betty Boop, or a can-can dancer, a busty nymphet from a Donald McGill style postcard or a terrifying old boot, Fanny can appear in many guises. Some are kitsch; others are collectors' items. We present here a small selection.

fanny 01 from a provencal petanque game

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