We were put into two teams and were given personal tuition to help us to bowl. The rules of the game are similar to those of pétanque, in that the aim is to be as close as possible to the target, called the master (le maître), but the bowling techniques are very different. This is because the aspherical ball is a little heavier on one side than the other. Although balls are now made of plastic, many bowlers remain faithful to the old wooden balls which are still made by craftsmen such as Roger Fassilleau in Morannes. The time which elapses between the bowling of the ball to when it stops close to the master is approximately 45 seconds to one minute, depending on the length of the alley. A game of 10 points can take between two and two and a half hours.
The morning was rounded off by an aperitif offered to us by the Cercle de Boule de Fort, marking the end of a most enjoyable and informative morning.
At this stage our plans changed from those that had appeared in the invitation. Unfortunately, the lunch purveyor had a family emergency and was therefore unable to provide the lunch as planned. The committee rallied to the challenge and found the “Bistro les Traditions” only a short distance from the venue, who provided an excellent “traditional” dish of British fish and chips, wrapped in brown paper, followed by a chocolate brownie, all served by very pleasant and attentive staff. For lunch we were joined by more members and our two instructors and the restaurant, unable to accommodate all forty-six of us at one time, provided two sittings. This proved advantageous for the second group of twenty-three who were able to stay at the centre and continue to practise their new-found skills.
Whilst some members may already be familiar with this unusual game, those who had an “initiation” and enjoyed the experience may find the game la boule de fort a good way to get to know their local neighbours - there are, after all, 110 clubs in the area to choose from!
Thank you to everyone who made the day so enjoyable. In particular, we would like to extend thanks to our new friends at the Cercle de Boule de Fort and to promise a return visit in the not too distant future.