Thursday, October 4, 2012


Painting by Margaret Loxton from the book Provence by Peter Mayle,  McMillan Publishing Co.

I'll bet a lot of you have never heard of a yard game named boule.  The game of boule, aka "petanque", is just another contribution to my life from my dear friend - the one who has the family ties in Southern France and taught us about French Salad

Extremely simple, the game is similar to bocce ball or horseshoes.  There's a target, and you have to get as close to it as possible.  Simple to play yet highly competitive - very inclusive (anyone can play) yet, as with all things, it can get intense.
The object of the game is to throw your balls (literally balls of steel) so that they land closer to a much smaller ball called a cochonnet (that's French for "little pig"), than those of your opponents.  Or to strike and drive the cochonnet toward your other balls and away from your opponent's.
It's clearly a  French game, played in every Provencal village, usually on a dusty patch of ground, but you'll also see it played in the grand public gardens in Paris.  Especially popular among, I would say, older men in France (I have rarely seen a women play), they play in the gardens in the quiet summer afternoon during the week and appear to take it more to heart then we do with our summer game in the back yard.

The game has been on my mind lately because now that it's the start of October, there'll only be a few more times to play outside in the evening.

In the Spring, as soon as the weather gets good, out come the rakes and brooms sweeping away to get the boule court in shape and ready for the "boule season" which starts when the evenings and the rains lighten up.  

My friends have gone to the trouble to actually construct a boule court in their backyard just for the simple pleasure of passing summer evenings playing a boules match along with a glass of wine or pastis (another Provencal contribution and another story).  

At first we thought we had the First Official International Boule Court of North America but after doing my research I've actually found that we don't have an exclusive on the game here in Oregon (or North America).  In fact there are several boule clubs in the WV that are happy to help you learn the game and play with them.  This is a really good thing because the game is delightfully entertaining  and a great way to pass time with friends and your entire family on a warm summer day.  Meanwhile, I guess I'll have to wait until the sun comes out in the Spring for another game with friends in the backyard.

Here is a list with web links of the boule clubs in the WV.  Check them out - they'd love to hear from you.
Painting by Margaret Loxton from the book Provence by Peter Mayle

Life is good - Bye for now!  Evelyn


Meadowsweet Cottage said...

Sounds fun! I wish our yard was big enough. Of course if it was, the dogs would just destroy the nicely groomed appearance during their daily "zoomies"!

Evelyn Meadows said...

It's great fun! Should be more of a pass time here in the states. Gets all kinds of conversations going.