March 31, 2006

Jamison Square - Portland OR

John Prince sent us these very nice action pictures of his group at Jamison Square in downtown Portland.
An excellent location. Like everyone else they're warming up for the season.
Portlanders: get ready for a competition on Bastille Day, in co-operation with "Le Fenouil", a very popular brasserie just steps away from the Jamison "boulodrome".

For the record, it was a friendly bystander who took these pictures. We don't know his name so we can't thank him personally, but we do hope he stops by again for some more of these!

La Boule Rose website

March 30, 2006

Chicago Petanque Club

Daniel Danielson and his new group of petanque friends are gearing up for spring play.
They have made attractive fliers to spread the word in the Midwest. Click on the image to zoom in.
We will definitely include them with any orders of boules we ship to that area.

Chicago Petanque Club

Obut indoor boulodrome

Some time ago, we talked about indoor petanque courts.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit the brand new indoor boulodrome at Obut's factory. The weather in St Bonnet is far from warm and sunny year round so they converted part of an old plant into the real thing.
Spacious, well lit, with nice murals all around. At the far end a fake audience, watching your every throw.
And of course catering facilities on the other side.
In other words, a perfect place for sales (and other) meetings.
Boules galore, needless to say.

It shows how petanque can be attractive indoor entertainment as well, just like having pool tables or darts. Let's hope some bar or restaurant owners in the northern states pick up the concept. The investment is nominal, and you don't lose that space. Say you have a large party, then you can still use the courts for tables, a buffet, bar, whatever. A lot easier than moving pool tables around.

March 21, 2006

La Marseillaise 2006

The official poster of La Marseillaise 2006 has been published.
July 2 to 6, with a total purse of 150,000 Euros (around $ 180,000).
La Marseillaise is by far the largest petanque event in the world, open to anynone. Every year the number of participants increases. In 2005 there were 12,960 - thus 4,320 triplets. In a direct elimination format, of course.

Some years ago I made a live report about the finals. That's where I met Marco Foyot for the first time. High time for an update in 2006!

Alec Stone Sweet wrote an article about 2005, with interesting inside info since he took part himself.

Interested? A bit of a puzzle to find the online sign-up sheet, but here it is, this year also in English, and you can now pay by credit card:

Only 15 Euros ($ 18) - which includes a lot of goodies they give to all participants.

More tidbits about La Marseillaise on this blog in the coming weeks.

March 13, 2006

Funny commercial

Here's a commercial from 2003, about a guy having a severe nightmare.
Made for Nescafé in Belgium. From the accent, clearly Brussels...

March 12, 2006

Masters & Obut Trophy

Some more about two of France's major annual events for top players:

Masters: a "tour" with 8 stops in 8 cities during the summer
- over 5,000 spectators on average per stop
- a total of 35 hrs of television coverage like Sport+
- 6 cameras (one overhead for bird views and one macro for slow motion)
At each location there's a juniors event (Masters 'Jeunes') the preceding evening.

Trophée Obut des Villes: a 3-day competition in the fall. The last one was in Béziers - Nov 18-20. The 2004 edition in Chartres.
- 32 teams representing individual cities
- 7 programs for a total of 9 hrs on Sport+
- combined with a shooters competition

For television all players have wireless microphones so viewers can hear their comments, discussions, and the occasional 'gros mot' ;-).

Here are two short promotional movie clips that give an idea of the preparations and some nice shots.
They're zipped, so you need to download and extract them first with Winzip or similar. Then you get a .mov file to watch with Quicktime. Viewing at twice the original size (zoom 200%) works fine.

Masters de Petanque 2004 (10 Mb)
Trophée Obut 2004 (12 Mb)

March 9, 2006

Yorktown, Virginia

A couple in Yorktown, VA would like to meet players in the area between Richmond and Norfolk. Anyone? Let us know and we will link you up.

Petanque at AANR Resorts

If there is one place in the US where petanque has become very popular, very fast, it's in naturist resorts. And there are many more than one would think: AANR alone has 50,000 members, and 270 affiliated clubs and resorts. And we have been supplying boules to many of them over the past years.

We co-sponsored a tournament on Feb 4 & 5 at Gulf Coast Resort in Hudson, FL - around 45 miles N of Tampa. The event was named (in hindsight very appropriately) "Chilly Boules".
Everything had been meticulously prepared by Gulf Coast's management and our friends Kevin and Sue from W. Palm Beach. The food was delicious.
Alas, that very weekend most of Florida got flooded. In between the rain showers, we did manage to play some rounds on Saturday; then a condensed competition on Sunday followed by some "open field" games under the trees. We were a small group, but had a wonderful time all the same. Lots of laughter and some excellent players. For obvious reasons, no pictures this time. The above photo shows the 8 well laid out courts.

One reason for this popularity is that many American naturists have visited Europe' s naturist mecca, Cap d'Agde, which happens to be on the Mediterranean, close to Montpellier, where... petanque is big! Naturists travel often, have spread the word, and now many - if not most - naturist resorts throughout the US have petanque courts. One of the members at Gulf Coast actually made a report about their Cap d'Agde trips.

Gulf Coast organizes tournaments on a regular basis, the next one on April 8.
Some other naturist resorts where petanque is played daily: Hidden River Resort (St George, GA) and Cypress Cove Resort & Spa (Kissimmee, FL).

March 8, 2006

Who's playing when?

La Boule NY came up with a smart idea. They play in 3 different parks in Manhattan: Bryant Park, Central Park and Washington Square.
It is always nice to know who else is going, where, and around what time as to coordinate.
Now, instead of looking up the numbers of your buddies, trying to get hold of them, or leaving voice mail messages, and wasting a lot of time, you can quickly go online, and enter your time and place. Click on the image to see what it looks like.
And here's the page: at the Parks
Quoting Ernesto, their webmaster:

You may not see any entries right now, but last weekend it worked well. 14 of us ended by playing in Bryant Park, instead of Washington Sq. Park.
I figure as long as a handful of people use it, it will be useful. I don't expect everybody to put their name down, even if they see it. When the season starts it will be useful for our "regular" Wednesday night sessions and if the weather is questionable. At least that's how I see it.
The list groups people under Today, Tomorrow, and Day After title. (It's doesn't matter what order you signed up). But these titles only appear if someone actually puts themselves in for one of these days. So you can have a listing like this:

Bryant Park
ernesto 12pm -
without a Today or Day After. If then someone signs up for today. It will look like this.
Bryant Park
Jim 3pm-6pm To practice.
ernesto 12pm -

And at midnight it will automatically throw out "Today" list and make the Tomorrow list into Today, etc.

March 7, 2006

A century of petanque. And now..?

As you may know, the only country in the world where the amount of licensed players is decreasing year after year, is its birthplace, France. There is constant friction between those who have played for years, for fun (and yes -- sometimes for a couple of Francs Euros) and those who want a formal sport structure. New requirements, like a medical certificate, have turned off a lot of the leisure players. They have left clubs, and stick to playing with friends, outside of any league or organisation. It is sad to see clubs, some with a beautiful boulodrome, simply folding for lack of members.

On the other hand French TV stations have discovered that viewer ratings are pretty appealing. That means sponsors, and money, but media also have their constraints when it comes to timing, presentation and discipline. Click on the pictures!

Meanwhile, a lot of the decisons that are made in France indirectly affect other countries as well, countries where petanque is growing faster year after year, and that do not have the historical 'luggage', neither the good nor the bad.
As in any fight, both sides are half right, ànd half wrong.

While researching the previous article, I came across the opening speech by Mr Marcellin Dayer , Président of La Genevoise, the Geneva Petanque Club. He puts it quite bluntly -- which maybe he can afford more than others, being a respected insider, ànd a (Swiss) outsider.
Food for thought.

It is a 'free' translation, respecting the meaning, not necessarily the literal words.
For the original text in French, go right here.

Petanque was created around 100 years ago, organized in an International Federation around 50 years ago, and finds itself today at a crossroad, torn between a high level sport on the one hand and a popular pastime on the other, organized in such a traditional fashion that it has become disconnected from today's realities.
The oldest federations are struggling to maintain their membership numbers, without really grasping the causes for the loss in numbers. Newer federations are looking for ways and means to promote the sport. Both are taking liberties with the rules which only adds to the confusion.
New tournaments are created all around while the survival of older ones is not supported. Yet both depend often on the commitment (sacrifice) of one or two people. When they give up, voluntary or otherwise, the tournament vanishes.

Be it on a national or on the international federation level, fundamental choices must be made, especially upon approaching this first century of petanque:

* clarifying the game rules and their application, specifically in terms of enforcement & discipline

* studying the appropriate ways to be in tune with today's realities and the requirements of the media

while preserving the authentic values and assets that are the very fabric of petanque: a culture and a way of life.

Reconcile the irreconcilable is the challenge for today's leaders. It is possible with competence and tolerance, and with the courage not to go for boiled down standards.

2007 has been designated by the International Federation to celebrate "100 years of petanque". It should also be a time for everyone concerned to reflect on the best way for petanque to remain enjoyed by all players, whether as a game, a sport or for fun, conscious that between those three, there should be no antagonism, but only bridges.

Bol d'Or in Geneva - 25/26 Feb

This was the 32nd edition of the Bol d'Or (the Golden Bowl), organized by the Geneva Petanque Club, "la Genevoise".
You could call it a petanque marathon, because the format is very unique:
- 24 invited teams of 4 players (allowing one to rest)
- 23 consecutive games of 40 minutes
it lasted from Sat 2 pm till Sun 5:30 pm
It means each team get to play every other team once, and then the total points are counted.
Next to the reigning World and European champions and numerous French and Swiss teams, there were top teams from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain.

Our friend(*) Marco Foyot teamed up again with Pascal Miléi, Zvonko Radnic, and Jean-Michel Xisto) and they won for the second year in a row. Twenty-one wins, one tie, and one loss. 318 points for, 85 against.
For Marco, with different partners in the past, it was the 6th victory - the first time in 1985. Talking about a sport where age is not too relevant!
The Dutch team made it to a remarkable 8th place.

The 20th edition of the Mini Bol d'Or - for ladies - was played the week before. They call it "mini" because the format is more traditional, with pools, semi- and finals. No competition during the night. That was won by France Espoirs, with Tunisia second, and the (Swiss) Organizers team third. Also notable, Madagascar in 8th place.

(*) for new readers of this blog: Marco came twice to Florida, once in 2001 for several demonstrations, and once in 2003 for the first Petanque America Open.

You can see the full report, very well made (but in French only) at Go to "Résultats".

March 6, 2006

Louisiana in action

Here's a picture of our petanque friends at LSU.
If we go ahead with the Open in Miami this year, we're bound to get a lot of contenders from Baton Rouge!

March 3, 2006

Surprise boules

One of our Canadian friends spending the winter in S. Florida brought us some "boules". He had bought them at a flea market. They looked all right on the outside, but they weren't rolling very straight... So he decided to give them a good whack with a big hammer, and look what he found. He brought them to us as a souvenir when he came for - you guessed it right - a new set of real boules.

They're macro pics, so by clicking on them you get a close-up.
I swear we're not making this up!

We wondered why a factory would go through the hassle of forming a glued sort of sandball, sticking a threaded rod through it, and then cast the metal around it.
Well, sand casting is a traditional, though quite labor intensive foundry method. No need for welding.
But the most likely explanation is that sand is a lot cheaper than steel, especially since steel prices have almost tripled over the last 3 years.

March 2, 2006

Fresno, CA club forming

Tim Channell has been very active with friends in El Paso, TX to get something going there, but he recently moved to Fresno, CA and - of course - has pursued his favorite hobby.

The very dynamic folks of Oakhurst Petanque Club (50 mi north) are lending assistance to his group in preparing a formal proposal to the City for permanent courts.

All he needs is some more players:

Fresno, California Petanque Club forming. If you want to boule send me an email and I will tell you where we are meeting up for games. Hope you can get involved.
Tim Channell – email: or give me a call 559/264-0695

Who said petanque is not contagious.. ?

March 1, 2006

New club in Louisiana

Another new club, this time at LSU in Baton Rouge, LA.

Not only do they have a great sense of humor:

We are the first club of our kind in Louisiana and the current champions of our State.

they also play on a shady, traditional play field, under two beautiful (probably century-old) oak trees.

And they have a website with lots of info and their tournament calendar. Worth a visit!