Boules in Stockholm
Wailana Kalama rounds up some places to play boules in Stockholm.
Why do Swedes love the French game of boules (pétanque) so much? With boules bars, boules outdoor clubs, and a boules festival in August called La Majonnaise–there’s no arguing that Stockholmers are in love with the game.
I was only living in Sweden for a couple weeks before I stumbled onto the neighborhood game of boules. A few elderly gentlemen were playing it out in the garden near my flat. I stared quizzically, wondering why a French game was being played so freely on the streets of Stockholm.
Boules is no stranger to Swedes. It all started back in the 1980s, when HRH Prince Bertil brought his love of the sport from the French Riviera to Djurgården. Here, he played with friends in a greenhouse in Rosendals Trädgård. A longtime devotee, his enthusiasm and converts led to Stockholm’s first boules hall being established, and on February 22, 1989, Prince Bertil’s boules hall was erected, where it stands to this day.
Since the 1990s, the popularity of the game has only been on the rise, especially with the opening of boules halls like Boule & Berså and Boulebar that double as trendy restaurants. Things really took off with the introduction of La Majonnaise, a boules tournament & festival with live music. “Mayo,” as it’s otherwise known is a nod at the world’s largest boules festival, La Marseillaise in France.
First arranged by legendary boules club BK Grönbrallan, it was taken over by Boulebar and now takes place at Rålambshovsparken once a year. Join in for loads of boules, music, food, drinks and–of course–competitions.
Here are a few cool places where folks can head out to enjoy the sunshine and a game of boules in Stockholm:
Ugglan Boule & Bar
The “Owl” is an underground playground for adults, offering everything from shuffleboard and pinball to air hockey and foosball. Squeezed among all the billiards tables and dart boards are the boulefields. It’s a “beards and chalkboards” type of place, drawing in a young and trendy crowd.
When the Boule Hall opened 20 years ago, they shuffled in 50 tons of fine gravel to make the boulefields, shaping an exact copy of a famous boules court on the outskirts of Paris.
Boule & Berså
When the delightful Boule & Berså opened way back in 1999, it was with a modest bar and just a handful of boulefields at Danvikstull. Over the years, it’s grown to an impressive restaurant, complete with stylish bar and a whopping 22 boulefields along the canal. Immensely popular with locals, tourists and companies looking to unwind after a working day, Boule & Berså offers a bright activity for sunny days.
Drop in if your group is small, but if you’re 10+ people or more, be sure to book a table in advance. One tournament usually takes around 1.5 hours. After the game, plop down for some yummy fish and chips or the classical Channel burger and idylly watch the boats pass by.
The illustrious Boulebar is the brainchild of three friends who were interrailing around Europe during the 1990s. One day they happened to stumble among Marseille’s backstreets, where, the story goes, they picked up the game of boules. Eventually this inspired them to open up a bar that would combine dinner, pastis and outdoor boules with a lovely French vibe.
So far, they’ve opened up 6 locations around Sweden, and three of these–Rådhuset, Rålambshov and Tanto–are luckily in Stockholm. Rådhuset has carved out its own indoor boules hall right in the metro at Kungsholmen.
As one of the few indoor boules parks, it’s a cute place to gather the gang after work or on weekends. Located on the extensive grounds of Rålambshovsparken, Rålambshov Boule offers outdoor boules and fresh French food for those sunny summer days. The Tanto Boulebar, nicknamed “Place du Bateaux,” transforms Hornstull into a vibrant summer boulefield.