A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I was in the park and happened upon a group playing a game I was unfamiliar with. I talked with a lady that was playing who educated me on the game. It is French in origin and much like Bocci Ball (Italian) and Lawn Bowling (English). She said this was much more informal than the other two. They are much more sticklers in Bocci Ball regarding rules and such, and don't even think about stepping onto the court in that game. Lawn Bowling is quiet and subdued, you can walk on the grass but there is a dress code - one must dress all in white much like they do in Cricket. In Petanque everyone was dressed as they wished, walked all over the court and didn't really want to bother with a measuring device to see who was actually closer to the mark. They just eye-balled it and agreed. Imagine that happening with a bunch of Italians playing Bocci Ball. She said they did have a tape measure but no one wanted to look for it.
So they toss the little red ball out there then proceed taking turns rolling their baseball size metal balls to see how close to the red ball you got. Each person has two balls and you have a team of two or three on each side. The ball closest to the red ball gets a point. If the next closest ball is a teammate, then that team is awarded two points. But if the next closest ball belongs to the other team, no other points are given and only that first single point ball is counted. She said the highest she's seen is three points at one time. You play until 13 is reached.
Well, that seems easy enough. Maybe a bit too easy at least for me at this stage in my life. I need a little bit more action but at least I have something to look forward to in my later years.
Just in case you were wondering, the court was really hard packed, and the presence of leaves and twigs on the court wasn't an issue. The Brits would never stand for that in Lawn Bowling. They were lobbing these hollow metal balls (around 1.5 pounds) out there, landing with a resounding thud and hardly a dent appeared on the surface of the court. Each pair balls had a different pattern of colored lines etched into them so as to keep track which belonged to who. A few of the players had a two foot long cord with a strong magnet attached to the end. This allowed them to retrieve their balls without exerting any extra effort in bending over, so very French.


  1. Maybe not the most exciting game in the world but sure a lot better than planting your butt in front of the tv in the lazyboy. Almost as good as getting out and getting photos of peoples activities and mountain lion poop. ;^)

  2. thanks for explaining how they could tell their balls apart from others. hard to see in the photos. :) something to look forward to in your 'golden' years. :)

  3. We have a set of these balls in which we could have played at Panoche with you. We got them after watching people in France play the game. It is very popular at those places you don't like to visit.

  4. I was driving past Lake Park Pavilion the other night, after the master gardener picnic at that lighthouse, and I noticed people lawn bowling. they've played it there for years and I used to go watch them when I lived on that side of town. and yes - they were all dressed in white! whatever makes people happy; it's a fun thing to get together and have a bit of competition among friends. I like how relaxed and laid back these people are about PAY-TONK - that sounds like a lot more fun that Bocci Ball. or even lawn bowling.


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