A recent post in the blog “All About Pétanque” (https://petanque.wordpress.com) addressed the question of why boules today are sold in sets of three, while photos of vintage boules on antique sites typically show two boules in leather sling carriers.
The answer is that from its origins (early 1900s), pétanque typically was played as a triples game with opposing teams of three, each throwing two boules. It was not until much later in the 20th century that doubles (opposing teams of two, each throwing three boules) appeared as an alternative, and even later that singles became common.
In 1959, the newly formed international governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Pétanque et Jeu Provençal (FIPJP) issued the first set of rules recognizing doubles. In 1962, FIPJP rules recognized three officially accepted formats – triples, doubles, and singles (tête-a-tête).
As doubles became popular – any pétanque player will quickly cite the advantages of having a third boule and the ease of finding one playing partner rather than two – manufacturers began selling boules in sets of three. Although the market for two-boule sets steadily declined, Obut, the largest manufacturer, continued selling them until 2012.
Ironically, the only two-boule sets for sale today are inexpensive leisure boules sold on sites like Amazon as eight-boule sets – four pairs of similarly striated boules. New players are usualluy advised not to buy such sets because doubles and singles, now the most formats, require three identically-patterned boules.
Distinctive French Souvenir Boules
Obut has begun manufacturing distinctive “RF” and “Emblem” souvenir three-boule sets with engraved seals of either the République Française or the Presidence de la Republique, for sale at the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann in Paris and on-line. French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Bridgitte established the Èlysée Boutique Officielle to raise funds for refurbishment of the 300-year old palace. The RF and Emblem boule sets are available for 69.90 Euro on line at https://boutique.elysee.fr/en/168-obut-maroquinor.
Petanque in Oakmont Wednesday and Saturday
The Club encourages all Oakmonters who may be interested in playing or learning to play pétanque (pay-tonk) to come to the courts between Berger and the OVA offices at 9:45 a.m. on the Club play days of Wednesday and Saturday. The Club has boules to lend while you’re learning, and you’ll be playing right away. Anyone, regardless of experience, is welcome to enjoy the challenge and camaraderie of a simple game that is inexpensive, fun to play, learned quickly, and endlessly fascinating in its deeper levels of execution and strategy. No dues are required – just sign up to be on the Club roster. Club play days are casual friendly games with teams randomly assigned.
The final tourney of the season, Oktoberfest and picnic potluck lunch, is on Saturday, October 22.