A visit at La Boule Bleue

By Mr.Bordsenius at 2004-07-12

Hard labour! The boules are going one for one in the ovenfire.
Photo: Henk Reesink. Source: magazine petanQue, The Netherlands.

On an industrial zone on the outskirts of Marseille is La Boule Bleue, Marseille’s ‘true’ boules manufacturer. La Boule Bleue remains a family run artisanal business, where boules are still « hand crafted » rather than made on an automated production line. Every 2 to 3 years, manufacturers usually introduce a new boule to their range. Many players just think, “a boule is just a boule” but I’ve always been curious to know how manufacturers set out to improve the performance of their boules.

Maurice Rofritsch and his son Hervé (at the left): the third and fourth generation of the Rofritsch-La Boule Bleue saga.

By Ray Ager
Without asking for any ‘secrets’ of their manufacture to be divulged, I asked how La Boule Bleue went about creating a new boule. The proprietor, M. Hervé Rofritsch, very kindly explained that there weren’t really any ‘secrets’. “We listen carefully to what players tell us they want. Usually they want a better performing boule, with a lower rebound, traditionally a soft boule but also a longer lasting boule rather than a boule that quickly wears out. With our specialist metallurgy knowledge that we’ve developed over the years, we can thermically treat boules so that they’re soft on the inside to give a lower rebound but hard on the outside so they last longer. Also the metal manufacturers are constantly bringing out new materials. We evaluate their properties and will use new materials, if we consider them advantageous. Each manufacturer basically follows the same process.”

Photo: Henk Reesink. Source: magazine petanQue, The Netherlands.

La Boule Bleue has an excellent website www.laboulebleue.fr which gives a lot of information about boules manufacture and history, as well as an online shop.

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