The magnetic pull of the boules
Being fortunate enough to spend some time in the French speaking part Switzerland over the last couple of years, many things stand out. Among these are the mesemerising mountain views, the consistently good local white wine and the incredible pull of the boules.
Just across from our flat there are a row of boules pitches. Or do you call them courts? I have no idea. What I do know is that they are very well used – in fact, most weekends in the months where being outside for extended periods of time is bearable, this area is busy. Sometimes there are even tournaments, complete avec bar, sound system, marquee and scoring boards. Even when the heavens open and lightning flashes, the pull of the boules keeps them there, cheery as ever. It is all so quintessentially French – or should I say, Swiss French, in this case.
Their enthusiasm is infectious, yet I have no clue of the etiquette of the game, nor do I know how to play properly. Unless you count the odd go at drunken family gatherings in my youth back in Denmark, where this sense of calculated competition was definitely not present.
Does it look so enticing as it seems to be a closed club with my broken French loitering in the way of me and boules magnificence? I had to know, or at least commence my journey to find out.
My voyage started with purchasing an embarrassing set of tacky plastic boules. I’m not even sure they qualify for the name. After realising that this was simply too low a blow for my potential boules cred, I came across a miniature set of boules in a gadget shop. I thought: “What a great way to find out whether I’m any good at this - and without investing in the real deal.” Seemed like the perfect plan.
Yet, so far this summer my plan has progressed little beyond checking out the “real players” from my balcony. Somehow there seems to be no appropriate time to venture unnoticed to the pitch with my little set of boules to see how this elusive game catches my attention. With summer drawing to a close I am left wondering whether perhaps this one of those situations best left as a mystery.
What seems certain though is that my inner boules player is tiny, perhaps even smaller than my miniature set of boules...