Sunday, May 24, 2009

Les Boules !

Like I told you yesterday, I’m currently in the South of France. Here, they have a very popular game – or is it a sport? – called Les boules (the balls) or La Pétanque after the Provençal dialect word la petanca which means "feet anchored"). It’s very simple: the first player throws a little ball called Le Cochonnet (or Jack in English) about 10 meters away. The following players have two bigger metal boules that they try to get the closest possible to Le Cochonnet. It’s allowed to hit a competitor’s boule (for a more comprehensive history and rules check Wikipedia). FYI, I took this shot in Les arènes de Lutèce a very old Roman arena located in the 5th arrondissement, where now people play Boules every weekend.


  1. Oooh, I haven't played this game since I lived in France. Hope you're having the best time in the south!

  2. btw, great photo of a moment in Parisian time. Looks like this guy might be a lot better at boules than I was!

  3. How much I love your post.
    Very much.
    So much.
    Well, of course that's the South of France spirit.
    But still taken in Paris as you mentionned it.
    I didn't have a minute to me yesterday (Saturday), and this post is the best thing I could see...
    As odd it could seem I guess from non French people.
    This post is just as relaxing as I needed it.

  4. On Thursday, 14 May, I saw les arenes de Lutece for the first time, and sure enough, people were playing petanque.

    By the way: 24 May is the birthday of a PDP fan who lives in Minneapolis, loves all the people at the picnic, and...well, yeah, ok, it's me.

  5. Great action shot, Eric. I used to like watching them play les boules...

  6. Very nice shot. Pétanque is one of the things I know I will have to do when I move to Paris in a few months.

    Every time I look at your blog, I find myself wishing time was going faster.

  7. Happy b'day Jeffy!

    While walking in the Luxembourg gardens on Tuesday, I stopped to watch the old men playing boules. I thought I would email you to say it would be a great picture for PDP!
    I wondered what the little ball was for. It looked like a little tennis ball. If I knew then what I know now, I would have asked Alexa! This woman is full of surprises!!!

  8. You even stopped the ball in midflight before it could knock a hole in the side of the photo frame.

    I was noodling around the links you provided and found this site about the Roman settlement of Lutetia. I find it fascinating to look at some of the 2,000-year-old roots of Paris. But not as fascinating as today’s Paris of PDP.

  9. Have never tried Boules but if it's as much fun as pitching horseshoes, sign me up. And as I recall, I was quite the "marble shooting" king in my youth, so I'm sure I'd be a natural. :-) Hey TG...loved the Roman link too. Ciao!

  10. Ahem, he looks a lot more intense than we do when we play boules! Yes, we have a set, though I prefer to play on a nice lush lawn.

    Happy Birthday, Jeff! Have a ball.

    Alexa, congrats GF. You have a ball, too. Indeed, why not a matching set of them.

    Coltrane, I've never tried pitching horseshoes but I'm guessing it's not dissimilar!

  11. My father, uncles, brothers and cousins use to play Bocce. I believe that is similar to boules. It was really a lot of fun, especially if you have a big family... which I did. I still have a set of Bocce stored away somewhere. Lol.

    Bocce (or Bocci, or Boccie) is a precision sport belonging to the boules sport family, closely related to bowls and pétanque with a common ancestry from ancient games played in the Roman Empire. Developed into its present form in Italy (where it is called Bocce, the plural of the Italian word boccia which means "bowl"), it is played around Europe and also in overseas countries that have received Italian migrants, including Australia, North America and South America (where it is known as bochas; "bolas criollas" in Venezuela), initially amongst the migrants themselves but slowly becoming more popular with their descendants and the wider community. The game is also well-known in Serbia as boćanje and in Croatia as boćanje, bućanje, or balote, depending on the region. In France the sport is known as Boule Lyonnaise.

    Boules is a collective name for games played with metal balls.

    Two of the most played boule games are pétanque and boule lyonnaise. The aim of the game is to get large, heavy, balls as close to the small, 'jack'. It is very popular especially in France where it may often be seen played in any open space in villages and towns. It is also referred to as 'WeeGee'.

  12. By the way, I have been meaning to say that "Tall Gary" always has something interesting to say. I also love the links you provided about the Roman settlement of Lutetia. I am always looking for information on Roman, since my first name is of Roman origin... or maybe it's Greek. Still researching it. Lol. Anyway Thank you for the infomation "Tall Gary".

  13. How interesting, all that, Anonyme, thanks. Wee gee huh? :)

  14. Eric, I guess you played a lot a pétanque, during these 4 days, after the swimming pool and before the Rosé aperitive...

    Jeff, bon anniversaire ;-)

  15. Happy Birthday Jeff ;-)

    This guy looks as if Les Boules is a sport to him. He is so dedicated.
    Great shot !

    Enjoy your last hours in the south, Eric.

  16. BTW, Eric, I leave you with the translation of the second meaning of your title!!!!
    I paid my due with yesterday's. that's enough for my reputation ;-))

  17. Thanks, Anonyme, for such interesting info.
    And, TG, what a great link!
    Happy Birthday, Jeff—have a good one.
    Brandon D -- moving to Paris? Lucky you!

  18. Happy Birthday, Jeff!
    Thanks for the link TG.

    Oh no, Thib! I can just guess. Something you don't want to get sand in between? I can imagine that the sporting French must have enough jokes about les boules to fill a book. ;}

  19. I remember one of the first games of boules I ever saw. It was in the South of France and I took photos. The local firemen were showing their best form playing each other. : ) Nice to watch, but, still, I like most to watch the old men play - they love to rib each other and it cracks me up!

  20. Great form this young man has! Excellent shot, Eric.

  21. The first time II saw a group of guys playing les boules, was just a few meters from Sacre Coeur.

  22. Silly me, I thought the Arènes de Lutèce was not used for any purpose anymore, just empty.. fun to know people play there.

    About yesterday´s post, we love love Paris. In spring time, all the time.
    I have a postcard just like the one you photographed.

  23. Jeff, happy birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. My most memorable moment in petanque is when I saw Yves Montand playing in Saint-Paul de Vence (many years ago). Great shot! I am going to check out the link.

  25. Thank you for your previous welcome, Bettina!
    And Happy Birthday, Jeff!

    What a strong, dynamic shot with ball in flight! I have seen wonderful, rowdy,games of le foot in les arenes as well!

  26. I've seen this played in London parks too, but it's nicer to watch in France.