Jurassic Tennis: My newest article in The Smart Set


[Above, noblemen play Jeu de Paume in 16th century Paris.]

My latest article for The Smart Set, “Jurassic Tennis,” recounts a journey into a lesser-known corner of Paris to play the ancient French racquet sport of Jeu de Paume. Though similar in many ways to modern tennis, Jeu de Paume is a far more complex and technical sport. Played on an indoor court featuring angled walls and netted windows, the game favors precision ball-placement and mental strategies akin to a fast-paced game of chess.

At its popular peak in the 16th and 17th centuries, this Ur-tennis game had an influence on everything from commerce, to social codes, to gambling. As with baseball in mid-20th century America, Jeu de Paume provided the metaphorical vernacular of this era: Mathematicians illustrated theorems with Jeu de Paume gambling probabilities; devout poets used the game to dramatize God and Satan volleying for souls. Those poets less inclined to metaphysics used the four-point Jeu de Paume scoring system as a euphemism for sexual accomplishment (much like the four bases of baseball are used today).

The full article, which is as much a sports and history essay as it is a travel article, is online here.

Elsewhere online, my highly subjective list of favorite bookstores around the world recently appeared on National Geographic Traveler‘s Intelligent Travel blog — and in the TV world, I make a “talking head” appearance (alongside a number of other travel writers) this month on a Travel Channel special called “25 Mind Blowing Escapes.”

Posted by | Comments (1)  | December 20, 2007
Category: Rolf's News and Updates, Travel News

One Response to “Jurassic Tennis: My newest article in The Smart Set”

  1. Aaron Says:

    Just a heads up– 25 Mind-Blowing Escapes premieres tonight at 8 pm Eastern & Pacific. Check it out!