FRENCH GAMES - Boule Lyonnais

The boules (from: magazine Sport Boules - FSB)

The game of boule lyonnaise is also called sport-boules. The game was created in Lyons at the end of the 19th century. The first official tournament was organised by the newspaper Lyon Républicain at the famous square Bellecour in the centre of Lyons in 1894 with 1200 participants. In 1922 the UNFB, the Union Nationale des Fédérations Boulistes, was founded and later on changed to the FNB (Fédération Nationale de Boules, 1934), in FFB (Fédération Française de Boules, 1942), and in FFSB (Fédération Française du Sport-Boules, 1976). At the present, the FFSB has approximately 150.000 members.

The boules and the jack (from: magazine Sport Boules - FSB)

The dimensions of the court are 4 m wide and 27.5 m long. Transverse lines divide the courts in several areas. The jack has to be thrown out to a distance of between 12.5 and 17.5 m and in a rectangle at the opposite side of the court that is bounded by the ligne pied de jeu and the ligne maximum. The pointer has to play from a point that he chooses somewhere on the ligne pied de jeu (you could say: baseline or throw line). The shooter normally shoots with a run of three to seven steps, but he has to deliver his boule before the throw line. In order to hit in a regular way, he has to land at a maximum distance of 50 cm before the object he wants to strike.

The court of sport boules (from: Jeux de boules by André Duluc)

The shooter (from: magazine Sport Boules - FSB)

The size of the boules, which are made from bronze, must be between 9 and 11 cm, the weight between 900 and 1200 grams. The jack (wood) has a diameter between 35 and 37 mm.

There are official competitions for quartets, doubles and singles. In singles each player has four boules, in doubles three, and in quartets two boules. Normally the games are played up to 13 points, but there are also games up to 9, 11 and 15 points. In the past there were final games up to 21 points! Besides the traditional competitions, there are the so-called modern - and often spectacular - games: tir progressif en navette, tir en cadence rapide, tir de précision and tir et point ciblé.

The new discipline: le tir progressif - progressive shooting
(from: Sport Boules by René Petit)

Boule lyonnais or sport-boules is especially practised in the south-eastern part of France, in the northern part of Italy (there it is called bocce) and in Croatia.


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