March 31, 2009

Pictures from Lafayette, LA

Their first tournament was a success, with 25 doubles teams and wonderful weather.
Winners were Collin & Steve, with Hassam & John in second place. All from Lafayette. Tomie & Gordon who drove in from Baton Rouge took third place.

The day before Mayor Joe Durel officially opened the new terrain in Girard park, with an inaugural game with Bernard Champey, who had brought special "fleur-de-lys" boules for the occasion.

Well done, guys! Looking forward to more Louisiana petanque events.

Cannes, again

Cannes' Film Festival is always an occasion for petanque games. Some time ago, we had Elke Sommers, now here is our dear Charles Aznavour, with Pascale Petit and Mylene Demongeot in 1959.
Look at the size of those polka dots! Big as boules.

From the Life archives

And here is Robert Mitchum impressing Michele Morgan with his juggling talents in 1954.

March 29, 2009

San Francisco City Hall

For many years the median of Civic Center Park, in front of City Hall was a shallow pool, and then a lawn.

During the summer of 2008 the City tore up the lawn to make Victory Garden, a vegetable garden that would also be the centerpiece for Slow Food Nation Festival.

Recently everything was flattened and the approx. 1/4 acre area converted into what may well be the largest public "boulodrome" in the nation. I doubt that was the City Fathers' intention but that doesn't matter...

Petanque "eagle" Ken of La Petanque Mariniere spotted it last week, alerted me, and went right away with a group of friends to play a couple of games.
At roughly 72 x 13 meter (236 x 43 ft) there is enough room for 18, and if you squeeze things a bit, 24 concurrent games. Over 100 players. A lot of shade in the bordering areas. All smack in the center of the city.

Let's hope this spot becomes a permanent addition to the growing list of prominent downtown petanque locations: Bryant Park (NY), Campus Martius (Detroit), Jamison Square (Portland), Buckingham Fountain (Chicago), Discovery Green (Houston).

With La Boule d'Or in Golden Gate Park, and this new site downtown, there's every reason to pick up your boules and get out in the open air in SF.

March 25, 2009

Only geezers play pétanque?

Once in a while we need to remind the general public that in France pétanque is not exclusively played by Gauloises-smoking, beret-wearing retired men. Especially since the foreign press often likes to perpetuate that caricature.

This is famous TV actress Ingrid Chauvin, during a recent tournament in Avignon.

Point made? Thank you. From your geezer on duty.

(in the US "geezer" refers to an old man, particularly one of the cranky or eccentric variety)

March 23, 2009

Petanque in Georgia

Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens, GA - east of Atlanta - has become a petanque "hotbed", under the guidance of this year's Professorial Chair Paul Kos.

Below you see the school's team "La Boule Dawgs", in a rural and a more urban environment. Nice graffiti!

And the school is preparing a dedicated terrain next to the new building as we speak.

This past weekend the team went to visit the folks at Park Springs Community in Stone Mountain. I don't know the end result but a wonderful time was had by all. How often do you see a bunch of college students challenge a 62+ retirement community? Only in petanque.

Kudos to Paul, Andy and all the competitors.
By the way, apparently the terrain at Park Springs is tops.

Boulodromes in France

"Street view" on Google Maps has been around in the US for a while. In France, Google started last summer, first with major parts of the Tour de France itinerary, followed by the large cities, Paris, Lyon, Marseille etc... More cities are added every month.
It would seem that the camera car driver who did Marseille and Aubagne wanted a more scenic drive on the way back and drove by Cassis, a wonderful town on the Mediterranean, famous for its excellent rosé wine.

I couldn't help but look for the local petanque club, right at the waterfront. Here it is, La Boule Calendal. For the tourists unfamiliar with petanque, the club sign has a warning: "Crossing may be dangerous".
Click on it. Crystal clear photo:

Must have been taken in the morning, because in the afternoon you will always find locals playing there, in the shade of the plane trees.

I'll keep looking for more.

Since I was "in the area" I also swung by Bernie Madoff's house in Antibes. Easy to find, in the French telephone directory. Under his wife's name, of course:

March 20, 2009

New Mexico, again!

After El Paso and Santa Fe , there's now a new club opening up smack in the middle, in Capitan, the birthplace and hometown of Smokey Bear.

The opening of the public terrain will take place on Fri April 3rd. Pictures coming soon.

March 19, 2009

Pierre is ready

As Yumi Chen reports, Pierre "le Breton" is ready and waiting for new pupils at Bryant Park this season.

A Lesson in Petanque

Petanque wine launched

Schlumberger wines have launched their new "Petanque" wine, and a website to keep us all up to date on developments.

The boules look familiar ;-)

Distribution is already assured in California, Texas and Louisiana. More to follow soon.
We wish them all the best.

Good wine and good boules go hand in hand. Just make sure you toss with the right hand. We don't want any glassware flying all over the court!

March 14, 2009

Boule Noire & Co.

Last night (or was it this morning?) I uploaded the complete range of Boule Noire and Okaro boules. They are not that well known outside of France but gaining in popularity.

We used to bring in Super Cou's years ago, and here they are again. With their unusual ridged surface. In France they call them micro stripes. Like finger prints, or an old vinyl record.

The Boule Noire ranges are limited (typical shooter boules), except for the top-of-the-line CX Cou that goes all the way from 650 to 800, and has the new # 3 pattern. Wall to wall squares.
Still, for the 8 different models together, there are a total of 1,166 possible combinations mm/gr/#.

Ton'r 110 is another classic: blue / grayish when they're new, like lead, and so soft that I have seen some that were hardly spherical after years of use. But pure shooters really don't care what their boules look like and if they still roll straight... They are made to fly.

Okaro Soleil has several fans on the West Coast. It is one of the few truly soft stainless boules.

Laboule Noire, Okaro & Ton'r

That's it for for today with the graphic cutting, pasting, cropping and resizing, as well as the brightness, gamma, contrast, hue and sharpening buttons. One day we'll start selling baseballs: one size, one color, one weight, a dozen a box.

March 12, 2009

Haiti joins FIPJP

Good to see a new petanque federation in the Americas, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti this time. That will be our closest formal petanque neighbor, after Canada.
I spoke with Jean-Edouard Nelson a few months ago, and he has big plans.

We all know Haiti is in dire shape and it saddens me a lot. I used to go there often in the late 70's & 80's. A beautiful country with extremely jovial people.

If any of you have old but good boules lying around that you never use, please send them to us, and we'll get them down to Haiti.

Federation Haitienne de Petanque

Nostalgia in Australia

There's a bit of malaise among Aussie players these days, which spawned a new blog - "The Boules Lounge" - written by "Roger Casquette". An appropriate alias as "casquette" in French means "cap" but is also the term used when you try to shoot another boule but end up merely hitting it on its head without further effect.

Whether the gripes are justified or not is none of my business, but I found it interesting to read the posts and the constructive comments because they touch on the recurring, universal topics of "social play vs competition" and team selection for international tournaments. A good way to see how other players feel about it and what kind of solutions are being discussed.

"Roger" als has a nice collection of phots in the right column, including the game rules of Bryant Park, NY!

Whenever the subject of accommodating the needs of both social and competitive players within the same league comes up, I suggest to consider the Dutch system, where some years ago they introduced a two tier membership: one for those who play exclusively in their own club, and one for those who travel to regional and national competitions. No system is perfect, but with over 18,000 members the Netherlands is certainly one of the most dynamic petanque countries, # 4 worldwide.

And - looking at their new website - I see they now also have a Google Map! I should have patented it ;-)

March 10, 2009

Second oldest club in America

La Boule d'Or celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. John Krauer, the actual president, was there in '59 and reminisces:

"I was at the courts in Golden Gate Park with a few petanque players waiting for the Mayor of San Francisco to come to the boules terrain. As the car made the turn to the DOG training field Jean Bontemps ran to the other side of the parking lot and directed the delegation to the petanque courts!!
Mr Christopher excused himself and addressed us with a few words and Jean gave him the BOUCHON and he tossed it and some of our 6 players played a few boules, and we tried to explain the game a little and after wishing us good luck, he left with the limousine.
This was a new playground; before they played in the Mission district next to 3rd Street.
Later after having learned the game a little and bought some boules, we started to play as a team. In October 1960 we had our first International Game.
I was just watching. A team from Canada and another one from Tunisia and some from France where here and our team was playing against the Canadian in the final game and won.
I believe Andre Martin is the only one still alive, Armand Squiteri passed away last year, Charles Nicolas went back to France a long time ago. Andre is also living in France since about 1995 I guess.
That was the start of the first official Club in the USA."

John is originally from Switzerland and his charming wife (and accomplished shooter) Josse is from... Toulon.

A 1964 group photo, courtesy of Ken at La Petanque Mariniere :

To see the beautiful grounds and today's club in action, here's the slideshow of their Petanque 100 celebration in 2007.

Anniversary tournaments are planned for May 30 & 31.

Update 3/11/09
Title corrected. The oldest club in America, founded in 1958, is Le Mistral Club de Petanque, in Worcester, MA (west of Boston). Look at the nice old pics on their site.

March 7, 2009

New Obut bags

Obut came out with a new bag this year, with an adjustable shoulder strap. 
You can now finally explain - with both hands - that unbelievable shot you did,  or open a bottle and have a drink, without putting down your beloved boules set.
Available in gray, terra cotta and blue.

I uploaded the colored leather bags as well.

We now have 21 different types of bags & cases in stock, most of them in a variety of colors. It may seem crazy, but you'd be surprised how often people ask us for a bag that is noticeably different from everything they've seen at their club so far. 

"Anybody seen my balls?" is a common cry indeed.

March 5, 2009

Tournament in Lafayette, LA

On Sunday March 22nd in Lafayette, the Alliance Francaise will hold a first ever tournament on their new courts in Girard Park.

Guest of honor will be Bernard Champey, multiple Boule Lyonnaise champion, and the main promoter of petanque in China where he has organized numerous clinics over the past 10 years.

Sat 10:45am - official inauguration of the new courts by Lafayette Mayor Joey Durel, followed by petanque practice
Sat 11:00am - registration and petanque practice with Bernard Champey

Sun 9:30am - registration
Sun 10:00am - petanque tournament

If you like cajun food and cajun music - and petanque, but that's a given if you're reading this, join in the fun!

Participation $10 ($8 for AF members).

For info and registration, call (337) 261-1002 or email

Ben Arfa shoots

For the supporters of OM (Olympique de Marseille) and petanque - there are a lot of them in NY -, here's a clip of soccer star Hatem Ben Arfa doing a carreau his way! Watch carefully.
(sometimes the video stutters. just let it download and then play it again from your cache)

This video came out today as part of Nike's "V is for Victory" campaign in France.

Players looking for players

Our "Petanque in the USA" map remains extremely popular (27,000 visits),  and has now over 100 spots
But that's far from enough, and messages from players looking for others are frequent.
To keep all the info on one page we're going to put individual players on the map as well, with red markers this time.
Here's the first example, Adam in Boulder, CO.

The good part is that email robots do not harvest addresses from Google maps, so you don't have to worry about ending up on spam lists.  

A petanque "dating service", so to speak.
Just send your info, whatever you'd like to share, to:


March 4, 2009

Watch out for seagulls

Here's what happened to Karen on the beach in South Carolina:

Just thought you may like to know why the order of piglets! Today a friend and I where playing petanque on the beach when all of a sudden a seagull swept down and picked up the piglet. We chased after them but the bird must have swallowed it cuz it was no where 2 be found. So resumed our game and another seagull took our piglet and again we tried to retrieve it but it was also swallowed. Unfortunately, we stopped playing our game but did have a big laugh over the incident.

March 3, 2009

Petanque can ruin a marriage

There's no doubt that unbridled love for petanque has ruined more than one relationship on the old continent. Here's the first saga of such an occurrence in Texas. Courtesy of our friend, jester Arsene Dupin, the tireless "Monsieur Petanque", in a clip called "Abe Lincoln", about indivualness individuality.

Here's the direct link, where you can see it in high resolution.

It's also "the end" for poor Jerome...

PS: Next time "Jean" calls us for new boules, we'll charge him double.

FPUSA's new website

FPUSA has a new look!

No more Stars & Stripes, which - from what I understand - are not supposed to be part of anyone's logo, just boules and a target ball. Isn't that what it's all about?
But - of course - red, white & blue, the national colors of both the USA and France.

Please visit and do read the first new format newsletter, The Score, that stresses the importance of cultivating interest for petanque around existing entities or locales, whether it's a church, a fire station or a condo.

I for one loudly applaud that philosophy and have advocated it for years. For too long, some clubs have tried to grow only with people who already know the game. The future lies not only with those who do, but also with those who just discovered it, cherish it and then become the best ambassadors.

A big welcome to Daniel, the new webmaster in Chicago, and sincere thanks to Jan in Oakhurst, CA who kept running and growing for so many years.