It's Summer time : our top spots to play boules in Paris

In squares, on the banks of canals, in the woods… in Paris, there are plenty of places and spaces to play boules!

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

Affiche Paris Plages 2019 Parc Rives de Seine & Bassin de la Villette © Mairie de Paris

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

Arènes de Lutèce, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

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

Boules de pétanque © Fotolia

If you’re feeling hot and are seeking shade, cool and greenery, head for the woods. The Bois de Vincennes and the Bois de Boulogne have traditionally been used for playing boules.

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

Méridien Summer Soirée - pétanque

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

Match de pétanque au jardin des Tuileries © OTCP - Sarah Sergent

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.

A similar attitude is to be adopted when tracing your boules circle in the lanes of the Luxembourg Gardens, seat of the French Senate and the Tuileries Gardens.

Up on the hill: Square Suzanne Buisson

Pétanque © Thinkstock

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).

Jardin des Tuileries

Park, garden, promenade
Place de la Concorde, Paris, 75001

The Tuileries Gardens take their name from the tile factories which previously stood on the site where Queen Catherine de Medici......

Paris Plages

Celebration | Festival
from 10 July 2021 to 22 August 2021
Tout Paris - Paris, Paris

Over the summer, Paris becomes a seaside resort with the Paris Plages (Paris Beaches) event.

Bassin de La Villette

Park, garden, promenade
Quai de la Seine, Paris, 75019

At 800 metres long and 70 metres wide, the Bassin de la Villette is the biggest artificial stretch of water in Paris linking the......

Canal Saint-Martin

Street, area of interest
Quai de Jemmapes, Paris, 75010

Extending over 4.5 km, of which 2 are underground, the canal has linked the Port de l’Arsenal to the La Villette canal basin......

Canal de l'Ourcq

Street, area of interest
Bassin de la Villette, Paris, 75019

The Canal de l’Ourcq is part of the Parisian canal network. Drawing its source from the Ourcq, the canal joins the La Villette......

Port de l'Arsenal

Street, area of interest
Boulevard Bourdon - Boulevard de la Bastille, Paris, 75004 - 75012

The port has everything from landing stages and little boats to a harbour master’s office, gulls, and seafood restaurants. If it......

Arènes de Lutèce et square Capitan

Monument
4 rue des Arènes, Paris, 75005

The Arènes de Lutèce (Paris's former name) are listed monuments that you can visit for free on any day. These arenas, situated in......

Bois de Vincennes

Park, garden, promenade
Bois de Vincennes, Paris, 75012

The Bois de Vincennes is the capital's second largest 'green lung', after the Bois de Boulogne. It is located in the east of......

Bois de Boulogne

Park, garden, promenade
Bois de Boulogne, Paris, 75016

A former hunting ground for the Kings of France, the Bois de Boulogne has become the largest spot for relaxation in the west of......

Domaine national du Palais Royal

Park, garden, promenade
Place Colette, Paris, 75001

Created by the Cardinal Richelieu in 1633, the Palais Royal and its gardens, just a short walk from the Louvre, housed royal......

Jardin du Luxembourg

Park, garden, promenade
Rue de Médicis - Rue de Vaugirard, Paris, 75006

Situated on the border between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter, the Luxembourg Gardens, inspired by the Boboli......

Chez Bouboule

Restaurant original for its venue or entertainment
Avenue Trudaine - Rue de Rochechouart, Paris, 75009

Chez Bouboule offers a quirky concept. Enjoy a drink, nibble on an aperitif or dine before playing a great of petanqe! This......

Les Niçois

Restaurant original for its venue or entertainment
7 rue Lacharrière, Paris, 75011

As the name suggests, the Les Niçois restaurant is an eclave in the heart of Paris, between République and the Père-Lachaise......

Square Suzanne Buisson

Park, garden, promenade
7 bis rue Girardon, Paris, 75018

The Suzanne Buisson square is in the heart of Montmartre, near the Château de Brouillards park. Its name pays homage to a famous......