boite à outils

Tried and Tested: la boule plombée!

Arriving at the square of beaten earth, I’m welcomed by the volunteers of the group ’Amicale Plouganiste des Boules Plombées’ - a far cry from the English Bowls Clubs and this sport using ’leaden balls’ is a far cry from bowls. They’re delighted to play host to a representative from the Tourist Office and can’t wait to tell me more.

Before we begin, there’s the question of how this game of Breton bowls differs from other types of bowling.... That’s where Daniel comes in to explain how this traditional Morlaix Bay sport is somewhat unique!

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Boules plombées, Plougasnou, Finistère, Bretagne

La boule plombée

Four weights are hidden inside the bowling ball to determine how it rolls along the ground. So far, so good, but everything gets rather complicated after this. A fifth weight, called the ’fort’, is stuck on one side of the rolling strip, and opposite this there’s a non-weighted hole.

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Boules plombées, Plougasnou, Finistère, Bretagne

You might well be wondering why these weights are there at all.... well, it’s simply to spice up the game! Thanks to these weights that are placed a different spots in the ball, it will never roll straight but always follow a curved line.

Click on the link to see the curved trajectory in action:

Boules plombées, Plougasnou, Finistère, Bretagne

The game

A game involves 12 points and teams of 2, 3 or 4 players (or occasionally individual players). The aim of the game is to get your ball as close as possible to the ’bihan’ - Breton for ’the little one’.
The player must get his ball to roll without actually throwing it: he or she can tap it in the right direction or aiming it to shift an opponent’s ball out of the way. To launch your bowling ball, you can place yourself anywhere along the base line without forgetting the essential rule: if you want your ball to go right, you throw it to the left with the weight placed on the right-hand side. That way, the ball will begin by going left but as it slows down, it will inevitably turn - to the right.

This game can be played almost anywhere and doesn’t require any special skills or strength - as can be guessed by the fact that the group ’Amicale Plouganiste des Boules Plombées’ has 60 players, aged between 7 and 93 years old!

Events to keep up the tradition of this wonderful game - part of the rich heritage of Morlaix

  • Free taster sessions every Wednesday 10am to 12 noon (in July & August) on the grounds of Primel-Trégastel in Plougasnou.
  • Demonstrations every Friday from 5pm to 8pm (in July & August) during the night market at Primel-Trégastel.
  • Presentation and explanation of the game every Tuesday 10am to 12.30 (in July & August) during the welcome sessions at the Tourist Office.

You can also go and watch the games from Monday to Saturday 5pm to 7pm on the playing areas at Diben or on Thursday, Saturdays and Sundays (afternoons) at Primel-Trégastel. If the weather isn’t being kind, the game is played in the Salle Municipale at Plougasnou.

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Boules plombées, Plougasnou, Finistère, Bretagne

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Boules plombées, Plougasnou, Finistère, Bretagne