Boule Bretonne plombée (Brittany, France)

Name of sport (game)

Boule Bretonne plombée

Name in native language

Boule Bretonne plombée

Place of practice (continent, state, nation)

Brittany, France (region of Morlaix)


The origin of the typical game of the Morlaix region is not very well known but boule being a very popular game that was played in sunken lanes, the use of an eccentric weight was surely thought to compensate for the effects of slope of the paths. In 1783, Admiral De GUICHEN (a Comte Morlaisien) is described playing bowls near the Quai de Tréguier where a playground had been set up. He played there every afternoon which seemed to mean that the playing area was covered.
The track of the leaded ball game resembles the billiard tracks of the Middle Ages which is still found in Germany and Belgium (billiards was played on the ground).
The heyday of popular games and particularly boules is at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. In the recent past, especially between the two wars, the game of boules has experienced tremendous development and the practice of this game took place in private alleys which were located in the shops (cafes) of each village or municipalities, even neighborhood.

People gathered every Sunday to practice their favorite game and that in formal attire, suit, white shirt and tie. These parties usually took place in the afternoon, which allowed them to meet and talk about daily life, local affairs and community life. These friendly meetings are still perpetuated in many friendly on the municipal alleys.
The game of leaded boules in the Pays de MORLAIX is played mainly in North Finistère in an area stretching from Plouvorn to Locquirec and from the Ile de Batz to Botsorhel.


Thophile Deyrolle Les joueurs de boules Beuzec Conq 1887
Théophile Deyrolle, Les joueurs de boules (à Beuzec-Conq, 1887)


This game can be played outdoors or in a covered room on a carpet. The games take place in twelve points, in teams of: 2 - 3 - 4 people or individually.
The game of leaded Breton boules from the country of Morlaix requires two leaded balls in hardwood or resin. They weigh between 1.8 kg and 2.3 kg and are between 12.5 and 13.5 cm in diameter. The more fragile wooden balls are hardly used any more. They are now replaced by resin balls. In order to recognize his boules on the alley, the player puts a colored point in the counter or engraves his initials. In recent years, multicolored balls have appeared.
Formerly, the leaded Morlaisian ball was entirely made by a carpenter, in guaiac wood, a rare, extremely hard and dense species, imported from South America.
The peculiarity of this leaded ball is to turn when it slows down. The ground is flat and groomed and measures approximately 20 m by 5.
This sport is played on alleys that are between sixteen and twenty meters long and between four and five meters wide. It can be outdoors or indoors (bowling alley). It is made of beaten earth covered with a layer of fine sand and is surrounded by wooden planks. Lead balls should be thrown by rolling them and not by throwing them from above to avoid damaging the fairways. Each hole in the aisle deflects the boules from their path and play becomes impossible. In some municipalities where dirt walkways do not exist or when the weather is not favorable, the game takes place on indoor carpet.
The Breton ball as it is practiced in northern Finistère in the region of Morlaix has its particularity and is undoubtedly the most unique of current Breton boules. Its main characteristic is to have five lead cylinders housed perpendicularly in the mass. The first four are arranged on the track. This tread guides the ball to allow it to go straight. But this game of skill is more subtle ... The fifth lead called the "strong" is encrusted on one side of the tread. Its role is essential and characterizes the game. It allows the ball to turn when its speed decreases. This lead unbalances the ball to the left or the right depending on the direction the player wants to get. Opposite the "strong", an unleaded cavity, called "contre fort", is made to accentuate the effect of the opposite lead.
As a general rule, if the bowler wants to send his boule to the right, he will throw it with his fort on the right but to the left. At the start of the course, the ball will move to the left, but its speed decreasing, will describe a curve to move ... to the right.
This game requires a lot of concentration, technique and strategy. The player can choose his placement to play his boule across the width of the fairway as long as one foot touches the back board.
The choice of this placement is essential because depending on it the curve obtained will be different. The measurement consists in positioning the straw between the ball and the ‘’bihen’’ to make it hold. This practice is called "bypass surgery". The straw should fit between the winning boule and the ‘’bihen’’ while it does not fit on the losing boule. In the Morlaix region, every café, both in town and in the countryside, had its path of lead balls.



Current status

Currently, there are twelve structured clubs, eight of which are affiliated with the Federation. Its last can be found in Morlaix, Saint-Martin-des-Champs, Ploujean, Plougasnou, Taulé, Guiclan, Carantec, Lanmeur, Locquénolé, Locquirec, Saint-Jean-du-Doigt.



La Fédération des boules plombées du Pays de Morlaix
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.LogoFede

Amicale Plouganiste des Boules Plombées
Tel.: +33 6 95 70 42 66
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Amicale Plouganiste des Boules Plombee logo

Boule Plombée Bro Gwenrann Plombee Bro Gwenrann logo