Boule Bretonne

Boule Bretonne

Learn about This Traditonal Game


The most ancient game of bowls in France is practised
in the western part of France, especially in Brittany. The game is also
called boule en bois, because the boules in the past were made of hard wood:
ashtree, elm, beech or box, but later tropical guaiacum. In the 1960’s
synthetic materials entered into the game of boule bretonne and players
use these new materials, which have contributed a lot to the development
of the game. The synthetic boules do not wear out as much as wooden boules
and they offer a range of diameters between 9 and 12 cm and a range of weights
between 500 and 1000 grams and more. The wooden jack has a diameter of 55
mm.The game is normally played up to 12 points, but in friendly games 9,
10 or even 15 points would not be unusual. These friendly games can be
played with teams that consist of 4, 5
or 6 players. The official tournaments are
played in either; singles (Pen eus Pen in the Breton language; each player
having two or three boules), doubles (again each player has either two
or three boules) or triples (each player has two boules).In the past the game was played anywhere: on half-hardened places, sunken
roads, farmyards and even in the sand dunes or meadowlands. Nowadays this
style of game has almost disappeared and the game is played in specially
constructed boulodromes. The courts have a width between 3 and 5 m and
a length between 16 and 20 m, which are usually marked by wooden borders.
A player of the team that wins the toss throws the jack out at a distance
of at least 12 m from the starting point.

Like in most games of boules, there is a pointer (in the game of boule
bretonne: placeur or poseur) and a shooter. The pointer plays his boule
with one foot against the wooden border of the court or in a circle; his
other foot stretches forward or sidewards, in order that he can find the
best trajectory for his boule. He has the choice to roll his boule along
the ground or to throw his boule high through the air in order that the
boule lands not far before the jack and rolls forward very little. This
technique is called in Breton: pok. Just like the technique of pointing,
the shooter can roll his boule (tirer à roule) or shoot directly
(tirer à pok) at the boule that must be removed. In both techniques,
the shooter makes two or three jumps before throwing his boule. What is
remarkable in the game of boule bretonne is that all boules are played
overhand, just like most of the games of boules in the western part of
France which is in contradiction to the games in Southern France.

Information kindly donated by:,
the online petanque and boule community. Visit their site for more information
about boule and petanque around the world including instructions for building your own boule court.

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