Boule Bleue
MS Petanque
La Boule

History of la Boule Bleue

boule cloutée - la boule bleue


1904. Marseilles. Félix Rofritsch, master mariner, refused to return to his native Alsace, in German hands since 1871. It seemed perfectly natural to him to settle in the bustling Mediterranean port of Marseilles that he knew so well. He opened a shop on the rue des Fabres in the centre of town and sold goods that were known at the time as “articles from Paris”. But he also began to manufacture a typically Marseillais item: boules! They were wooden, and studded with nails that Félix himself hammered in one by one. He made only two pairs a day, but it would not be long before the game would inspire widespread enthusiasm, with the first official pétanque competition in 1910.

boule en cuivre - la boule bleue

First revolution

Major changes came in 1925 with the invention of the bronze/brass boule. In the shade of the plane trees, when it was time for the aperitif, there was already much talk about the Rofritsch boules. The company was expanding, and a new foundry was bought. In 1937, Félix’s two sons, Fortuné and Marcel, took up their place in the company. They were the ones who, in 1947, created the first boule made of carbon tempered Swedish steel: an alloy, with shades of blue caused by the heat treatment and hardening. The unusual colour meant that Rofritsch boules were noticed wherever they were used. At that point it seemed only natural for the Rofritsch company to take on the name, “La Boule Bleue” (The Blue Boule), and it moved to spacious new premises not far from the Saint Charles railway station.

boule historique - la boule bleue

Winning Boules

La Boule Bleue would remain there until 1974 when, once again, the company needed more room, and moved to the east of Marseilles. In the meantime, Marcel’s son Maurice joined the company (in 1960). La Boule Bleue continued to innovate, and designed its first stainless steel balls in 1961, and its first annealed steel balls in 1963. Numerous champions, such as Lovino, Locatelli, and Charly de Gémenos, preferred these boules to any other make. In addition, the blue boules were the only ones with a five-year warranty (proof of their sturdiness and reliability), and they enabled major players and beginners alike to get what they were looking for: the drive to win!

boules historiques - la boule bleue

In the Present Day

Hervé Rofritsch, the fourth generation, is at the head of the company, which he joined in 1994. Like his father Maurice, he places great importance on craftsmanship: the blue boules are the only ones manufactured in Marseilles, in the family factory. Hervé and his father proudly celebrated the company’s centenary in 2004, and he is continuing the tradition of quality, made-to-measure manufacture of boules that are used on pitches the world over.

"La Naissance de La Boule Intégrale"

Vertaling Nederlands

"De geboorte van The Ultimate Ball"
Courtieu Paul, de uitvinder van de Ultimate Ball zegt: "In 1923, vorderde het spel Lyonaisse niet wegens de moeilijkheden om de kwantiteit en kwaliteit van de benodigde materialen te verkrijgen. Eerder, in 1920, kwamen Paul Courtieu, geboren in Villeurbanne in 1890, samen met Vincent Mille, zijn vriend en medearbeider en kampioen bowlerr Lyonnaisse, op het idee van het maken van een bal,volledig gemaakt van metaal.
Courtieu Paul bracht een deel van zijn nachten in zijn laboratorium om de meest geschikte metaallegering te vinden. Het duurde twee jaar om een metalen bal legering van gelaste twee hersenhelften te ontwikkelen, werd het patent in 1923. Een jaar later. I 1924, werd een tweede patent ingediend voor de Ultimate Ball samengesmolten tot een enkel stuk en waarmee de weg naar roem was ingeslagen.