In Paris, there are plenty of places and spaces to play boules: in squares, on the banks of canals, in the woods. Take your pick!
Summer’s here: Parisians can be seen sporting casual wear and espadrilles, and getting together on the banks of the Seine. To really get into the spirit of summer, what could be better than a game of boules? – or Molkky, the wooden equivalent from Finland.
Here is our selection of places to throw those boules.
In public: at Paris Plages, on the Seine riverbanks
From July on, Paris will once again turn into the biggest beach in France.
The riverside expressway Voie Georges Pompidou, transformed each summer into a beach resort, has several boules grounds managed by a local organization, the Ligue de Pétanque d’île de France (including one accessible court for people with reduced mobility) which draw plenty of onlookers.
With an audience watching you play in sandals on the sand, you’ll do your best to win!
On the waterfront: along the Bassin de la Villette, the Canal Saint-Martin and Canal Ourcq or the Port de l’Arsenal
Maybe these stretches of water give boules players the impression they’re on the Vieux Port in Marseilles, that bastion of boules. Whatever the reason, they’re irresistibly drawn to the magnificent boules grounds in the shade of the plane trees on the waterfont.
And if your team doesn’t win, at least there are cafés and refreshments stalls galore in which to order a pick-me-up. But be careful not to roll of the ball in the direction of the jack too enthusiastically: it could end up in the water.
In blazing sunshine: the Arènes de Lutèce
True, this is not the quietest or shadiest spot in Paris. But the sand floor of the amphitheatre, the steps steeped in history and all the other players make it the perfect arena for a game.
And you’ll feel like a real gladiator if you win.
In the shade: Bois de Boulogne, Bois de Vincennes
Besides the superb courts of the local boules clubs, both forests have any number of likely spots in which to play a leisurely game in a leafy setting.
Indoors: themed bars
If it’s raining, or your friends are worried about having to kiss Fanny (in other words, losing a game without scoring a single point), you could throw the ball behind closed doors: at least you’ll have hardly any onlookers.
Two good indoor spots: Chez Bouboule, near Avenue Trudaine, with a bowling alley open to all, and Les Niçois in the 11th arrondissement. Better stick to fruit juice though if you want to aim correctly.
In style: the garden of the Palais Royal, the Luxembourg or the Tuileries Gardens
The wide sand lanes in the garden of Palais royal are encircled by Buren’s columns, handsome government buildings and the Comédie Française, so string vests and flat caps will be frowned upon. This is the place for a genteel, low-key game.
Up on the hill: Square Suzanne Buisson
Paris is of course littered with squares, and many of them have a nice flat boules lane – sometimes even a proper boules court that would make any of Marcel Pagnol’s characters green with envy.
So why choose this one? Because it’s in a peaceful setting in the heart of Montmartre: a beautiful boules pitch for a game in a proper Paris village. Take careful aim and remember the golden rule: boule devant, boule d’argent! – meaning “a boule in front is a money ball” (people often bet on boules games in France).