Jeu de boules French-style… in the Netherlands


Jeu de boules (also known as pétanque, bocce or just plain boules) is a popular game in quite a few European countries, but seems to be approached with particular zeal by the French. That includes Frenchies living elsewhere like my lovely half French friend Corine who lives in the charming Dutch city of Utrecht.


Everything you need for French boules, under the shadow of a Dutch windmill

We spent a day playing this addictive (and surprisingly strategic) game, right in front of a traditional windmill for a nice Dutch touch.

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A couple of rounds of lawn bowls back in Sydney is not exactly solid training for this sport, especially when up against enthusiasts who have practically been playing since birth. I was happy just to be playing though, on a previous weekend trip to Lyon with local friends, only the men were permitted to play!

Ricard and poulet to accompany the game

Ricard and poulet to accompany the game

I´ve also learnt that drinking Ricard is essential when playing jeu de boules. The French wouldn´t consider playing without it. I found that the more I drank, the better my game became (or at least the better I think my game became). Other essential accoutrements included saucisson, pain frais and a dish of wonderfully lemony poulet.

Distances are measured down to the last millimetre

Distances are measured down to the last millimetre

These guys take the game very seriously. Unsure of which ball is closer? Out comes the official measuring tool (basically a piece of string with two markers) to be absolutely certain.

I can´t be sure who won that day but I suspect it was the Frenchies. My game and tolerance for Ricard can only improve though, so if you have any tips for me then please do let me know!

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