August 28, 2008

Petanque in Manhattan Beach

Kudos to the City of Manhattan Beach, CA for organizing weekly petanque meets, as part of their Older Adults Program.
Like today, from 1 to 3pm.
Free of charge, for anyone who wants to discover the game.

Location: Dorsey Field at Live Oak Park
Need to Bring: Nothing, all equipment will be provided.

What better way to get folks away from the couch and the TV and make new friends?

August 27, 2008


$200.00 for 6 crappy boules in a box! (click on the image).

The box is very nice indeed, and the sales pitch not bad: a blend of our website and J. Peterman.
Also, what is it - 6 or 8?

For sale at Design within Reach

August 26, 2008

Honky Tonk Petanque

On Sept 20, the Ferry County Fairgrounds in Republic, WA will be the setting again for the annual Marius Ciais Memorial tournament.

The organizers are absolutely on the right frequency:

Why Play Petanque?
1. Enjoy being in scenic outdoor surroundings.
2. The exercise - stopping, bending, tossing, dancing for joy, getting hugs....
3. The food, the drink!
4. The opportunity to compete with other teams & clubs and meet new people.
5. To have a great time!
6. To win prize money!!

Honky Tonk Petanque website

Stop staring!

A classic scene from the 1978 comedy "Je suis timide, mais je me soigne", where Robert Castel makes a stink about Pierre Richard watching him when he's ready to shoot. In the eyes, to boot.
"He breaks my arm" he claims. Even after they ask the guy to move away. It goes from bad to worse: at the end he cannot even stand ànybody watching him. And misses every shot.
As usual with Provençal players, even if you don't understand the words, body language and volume are more than adequate to catch the drift.

At one stage a player remarks that Castel will suffer a "nervooze brêkdown", and that there's 400,000 at stake. Even in "anciens francs" not a negligible amount!

Pierre Richard - meanwhile 74 and still very active - will appear later this year in "King Guillaume", a comedy about William the Conqueror.

August 25, 2008

Marseillaise in Quebec

Here's a slideshow of the weekend.
Still to be fine tuned, and some comments to be added, but at least those of you who were there can already kind of relive the weekend.

Quebec slideshow ( 4.50 min - with music)

August 24, 2008

The Known World Pétanque Championship

Summer is the time for Renaissance festivals all across the country. In most of these, the public watches costumed actors performing.

But in events organized by the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), public and actors are one and the same: from bakers to barbers, from keg makers to Kings. And warriors that fight it out at the annual Pennsic wars at Coopers Lake near Pittsburgh, early August.

Now, what's the link with pétanque?
Every year one of the households of the East Kingdom, Le Rieur Sanglier (from Québec) hosts a pétanque tournament. After all, the game of boules is century-old, so it fits right in. And teams like "Medieval Beaver", "Grey Beard's" and "Chalkman" (the winners) go at it all day.

2008 Tournament report with pics

Thanks to Bill for the story!

August 23, 2008

New boules designs

Obut's new "Sunfolies" and "Tatou" boules, that were presented to the public at La Marseillaise in July, have arrived at our warehouse.

I am very pleased, because for many years we've asked them to come up with designs that stand out and to increase the variety. We all know that bocce has an advantage over petanque in that colored balls are much easier to recognize, especially for beginning players.

But it's not that simple: the traditional circles that all manufacturers use, are done on a lathe, by cutting circular grooves and removing minute quantities of steel.
These new designs are cold stamped, while the boules are rolled under a press. Not an easy task, because the pressure applied has to be strong enough to deform the surface, but without "squeezing" the hollow spheres. Nobody wants to play with eggs!

Sunfolies are simple shapes, the Tatous are more intricate.
I tried out the "bubbles" last week in Quebec for fun games with the NY guys at the end of the tournament, and they have a real nice feel. And everyone knew whose they were ;-)

Fun designs

August 22, 2008

Winners pay for drinks!

Jacques Pépin is not only a world renowned chef but also a passionate petanque player.
And he agrees that - when you win - you should offer the losing team a drink. A wonderful Provençal tradition that has not yet made it all the way across the Atlantic.
So guys & gals, remember: at pétanque you win either way!

More about Jacques Pepin

"Losers" T-shirt

August 19, 2008

Marseillaise in Quebec

The winners, surrounded by representatives of La Marseillaise (the newspaper and the tournament), the Provence Tourist Board, and Ricard. On the far right Roger Roy, the tireless petanque fanatic/organizer, for whom this event was a dream come true. Though numerous sleepless nights prevented him from dreaming much the weeks before...

Click here for a full report about the tournament, by Joe Martin, President of FPUSA.

August 18, 2008

Petanque in Harvard

Last Saturday the walkways in front of Harvard Medical School were once again the scene of the annual petanque tournament organized by Nico & Jeff.
Philippe, Matt & Francois from Le Mistral Club came out the big winners this time.
But everyone had fun, a couple of brand new players did extremely well, and the teams - some with funny team names like "Les Bouleversantes", "Pétanque Warriors" & "Les Tontons" - are determined to start training for the next edition.

How appropriate: Gordon Hall was built in 1904, three 3 years before petanque was born.
By the way, looking at these pics: who was it again who said petanque is a game for old folks..? ;-)

Boules & bells in Quebec

An amazing weekend. And hats off for the organizers.
Let's start with an overview of the court area. This was on Saturday afternoon, shortly before 4pm while bells of a nearby church were ringing. It could have been anywhere in Europe.

August 16, 2008

Marseillaise in Quebec

Excellent weather, around 80 teams and top class organization by Roger and his wonderful team of volunteers.
Three teams, led by Mr Shimizu, came all the way from Kyoto, Japan.
And 6 US teams are here defending our colors.
Plus several visitors - not players - from Marseille.
The B&B I'm staying at, 300 meters from the courts, is absolutely marvelous but their connection a bit slow so I would miss the tournament if I were to upload all the pics now... More to come!

August 12, 2008

Petanque 'craze' in NY

La Boule NY and Bryant Park in the news... again. This time in Manhattan's largest circulation daily. As the caption says: Petanque draws players of all ages daily in Bryant Park.
I'm not yet familiar with the 'older' folks on the right side, but I can spot Warren, the youngster with the hat on the left from 1000 miles away!

Petanque 'craze' in NY City - AMNY - Aug 11

Petanque in Connecticut

Every Thursday evening during summer, one can hear boules clanging, high fives and cheers at the Bee and Thistle Inn, in Old Lyme, on route 1 just off I95.

A nice boulodrome they have.

The home team is training every week for a big challenge game on Sunday August 24.

Here you see team captain Jim in action, and below a group photo of the team and a "still life" of boules. Although I think, from the position of the boules, and the finger, that there's the usual conversation going on.
Like "Are you sure?", "I don't think so", "Not quite", "Oh yes, absolutely", "You don't see it??", "At least half an inch!", "Look at it from the other side" etc.. That's when a measuring tape appears, and it gets really "still".
Thanks to Donna & Sean for the pictures!

August 10, 2008

Street petanque

When I saw these nice pictures on Flick'r of a group of young folks playing on the street, I was desperate to find out where it was.
Problem solved: Brandon, who actually took the photos, ordered new boules from us last week, I recognized his name and bingo!

It's just a public parking lot, next to the El train, empty on weeknights and weekends, only a block from where he lives. Although the rocks are kind of outsized, Brandon says it makes for a great shooting practice area, and you can't beat the true Chicago atmosphere nor the short walk.

More pictures
W Berenice Ave on the map

PS: meanwhile Flick'r has added map location markers making it easier next time.

August 9, 2008

Lots of trophies

After the medals we now also got a bunch of trophies in from France.

Fifteen different ones, from small to big, in metal, wood and resin, for all budgets.

Most of them have space for a personalized plaque, which we can also supply if you wish.

Petanque trophies

August 8, 2008

Direct from Beijing

Dave Barry, America's funniest columnist (and a staunch supporter of petanque), is in Beijing covering the Olympics.

So if you want nothing but the real facts about the Games, the God of Longevity or the Great Wall, his daily columns are a must read.
Prepare to crack up, because his wit is breaking records again.

Miami Herald - Dave Barry columns
(scroll down the page to see all columns)
Dave Barry's Blog with photos

Petanque & the Olympics

This week a couple of callers asked me what I know/think about the chances for pétanque in the Olympics.

In 1985, in order to promote the cause of accreditation, a united confederation was formed by these four international federations: Sport Boules (Lyonnaise / Bocce), Lawn bowling, Raffa, and Petanque.

And indeed, that confederation,, with headquarters in Rome, is registered with the Association of the IOC Recognised International Sports Federations (ARISF).
If that was the best approach is subject to debate: although the 4 sports look very similar, was the intention to create a new hybrid sport? With steel balls or wooden balls, round or flat, grass, dirt or articial court, etc..? Or to convince the IOC to accept all 4 different disciplines? Which means 4 distinct setups. I don't know, but either way a complicated task. By the way, the CMSB website is quite incomplete and updated only sporadically.

Right now, in terms of international games associated with the IOC, petanque only appears in the biennial South East Asian Games (11 countries). Thailand hosted in 2007 , and 2009 will be in Laos. Although the number of disciplines was reduced for 2009, petanque will be maintained. Can it make its way from there into the Asian Games (45 countries)?

On the worldwide Olympic scale, there has been a tendency to reduce, rather than increase the list of sports, which now stands at 26 for London 2012, when baseball and softball will disappear. Also, the principle of demonstration sports, a traditional way of introducing a new sport "on the sidelines" was abolished after 1992.
So, in my humble opinion, the chances are slim.

That said, a good future opportunity may be the newly created Youth Olympic Games, first edition in Singapore 2010. IOC President Jacques Rogge announced these in 2007: watch the video (WMV file). By sheer coincidence - I guess - there's a statue of a lady ready to throw a (big) boule in the background!
Singapore will also stick to the 26 sports, but over time popular trends will be followed. And they will avoid sports that require a costly infrastructure. Knowing that - right now - SE Asia is the place where petanque is booming among youth, there is hope.

For example, look at this website of Angkasa, the co-operative movement in Malaysia, where we ship boules regularly. Thousands of kids participate in petanque workshops. That's a lot of future champions in the making!

Update 12:34am

Thanks to Kevin, our Brooklynite friend in Kaohsiung, Taiwan for alerting us, with the speed of light, that petanque will be part of the World Games there in July 2009.
The International World Games Association specifically promotes over 30 sports that are not part of the Olympic roster. Although their page about boules sports states that in Kaohsiung there will be 4 separate competitions: two for Lyonnaise, one for petanque, and one for Raffa - as was the case in Duisburg 2005 - according to Kevin it will just be petanque this time. We don't really mind, do we ;-) ?
We're lucky that he's on the spot to keep us all informed, also about the Asian Petanque Championship, November 2 to 7.

August 6, 2008

Petanque in wineries

Tasting wine is great. But doing something else at the same time is even more fun! Great video: look at that boule flying high at 1:31.
And a nice carreau by the winemaker himself!
A red target ball would make it easier on the eyes though :-)

Clos du Val on Google Maps

August 4, 2008

Getting ready for Québec

August 15-16-17

First ever "Marseillaise" petanque tournmanent this side of the Atlantic, and sponsored by Ricard.
Total potential purse: Can$ 21,500
Triplet teams
Registration fee: Can$ 135 per team, incl. 2 lunches

So far there are about 5 USA teams going that we know of.

Tournament website (in French)

It is not too late to sign up.
You can call us at 1-800-682-2557 if you need more info.

La Boule Rose in the press

The "ink" is hardly dry on my post about Seattle, and the virtues of neighborhood petanque (as in how lovely it is that folks can walk to their playground), and here comes the Northwest Examiner (Portland, OR) with an article about La Boule Rose in Jamison Square. The same basic ingredients.

People walk by, get intrigued, one of the players explains the game and bingo. Shaughn and his friends will probably put a boule in your hand even before you had the time to ask a question!
One extra feature of Jamison Square: several terraces to walk to for a drink or something to eat.

Thanks to the reporter for mentioning - twice - that petanque boules are hollow.

French game catches on in Jamison Square - PDF - p. 16 & 17

August 3, 2008

Petanque in politics

The prior post led me to an old story, about the 2005 elections in Germany.

The CDU party of Angela Merkel produced a television ad depicting a boule rolling across a (long!) table and crashing into everything in its path. Meanwhile the voice in the background dramatically sums up all the economic problems Germany is facing, until Frau Merkel stops the boule.
Click on the image to watch the MPG file.

SPD, the party of incumbent Gerhard Schröder, made a parody ad showing a woman tossing a boule back & forth from one hand to the other, until... she drops it. While the commentator reels off a list of Mrs Merkel's alleged flip-flops on issues.
Positively a satin finish Obut boule, a #2 pattern.
Click on the image to watch the WMV file.

There is a twist to the story however: it seems that the SPD was aware that CDU's ad would be coming out and managed to broadcast the parody before the original. explains.

I can't wait for the day our presidential candidates start using petanque balls in their ads!

Financial Times discovers LBNY

Shortly after the NY Times, now the Financial Times reports about petanque in Bryant Park.

Pierre (aka Pierrot le Breton) indeed deserves cheers for his tireless efforts to convert newbies into passionate players.
The other day I got a call from a charming young lady in NY asking if I had Pierrot's phone number. She was wondering if she had forgotten her camera at the park after taking a lesson from him.

Actually, the same FT reported about La Ciotat, the Lumière brothers, and petanque last month as well.
They even used petanque in a metaphor about President Nicolas Sarkozy (paragraph 8).

There must be some serious boules players among the Financial Times' editors.

Neighborhood petanque in Seattle

Steve in Seattle alerted me that there's this nice boules court on Fairview Ave on the east side of Lake Union. A quick glance at our database showed that - indeed - we've been shipping boules to several addresses in that area, and a couple of emails later, I got this interesting report, with photos, from Bob, who lives around the corner and plays there regularly.

Here are some pictures I took of some locals tossing boules just an hour ago. The Bouledrome is in the quiet Eastlake neighborhood of Seattle which is adjacent to downtown (as you can see from the Space Needle in the background in one of the pictures). At the same time, the lake is actually designated as an ‘airport’ as there is a seaplane terminal at the south end and the planes come and go, dodging boats along the way, taking people up north to the San Juan Islands and beyond. The Bouledrome is on a street with houseboats on the water side and is directly across the lake from the houseboat that appeared in Sleepless in Seattle. And as you can see, if you’re sober enough you can go for a swim after a hot game of Petanque. Lastly, the Bouledrome sits just one block from the historic first flight of a Boeing plane (it was a seaplane) 92 years ago.

Click on the photos to enlarge:

This is exactly the type of public play area I like: right smack in the middle of a neighborhood, almost on a street, so players can walk over there, any time it suits them, and meet other neighbors. And make new friends.
Though it's still somewhat of a "hidden gem", Bob confirmed that players from all over Seattle have discovered it and drive over there as well.

There's even an Independent Petanque Club of Eastlake, with a great sense of humor. Intrinsic to (most) pétanque players ;-)
And this Wikipedia article about Eastlake gives more background - see the last paragraph. The dollar amount quoted probably includes all the landscaping work, not only the court.

Kudos to all the parties involved for converting a simple street corner into a "party" place, and many thanks to Bob & Steve for sharing it. A great inspiration for other community groups.
Last but not least, here's a crystal clear view from the sky on Google Maps.