Archive for the ‘entertainment’ Category



Rules of Boules

1. Size of teams, number of boules

The game is played between two teams with one, two or three players on each side. With teams of one or two, each player has 3 boules to throw; with teams of three, each has 2 boules. The “cochonnet” (or “but”) is a small target ball made of wood or plastic.

The objective of the game is to get your boules nearer the target than your opponent’s boules.

2. Boule markings

Pairs of boules are engraved with different designs so players can tell which boules belong to them.

3. Marking where to stand

Toss a coin to choose which team plays first. A player from this team draws a circle on the ground in which all players must stand to throw their boules (on grass use a stick or piece of rope/string to stand behind). The circle should be about 0.5m in diameter and at least 1m from any obstacle (wall, tree, edge of playing area, etc).

4. Throwing the cochonnet

The same player stands in the circle and throws the cochonnet between 4m and 8m (6 to 10 paces) in any direction within the playing area.  In practice the playing area is often a rectangle which largely dictates the direction of the throw.  Distances can be shortened if playing with young children.  The cochonnet must land at least 1m from any obstacle and be visible from the throwing place.  If it isn’t, the same team gets 2 more attempts after which they forfeit and the opposing team gets to throw the cochonnet.

5. The first boule

Any player from the first team throws the first boule (not necessarily the player who threw the cochonnet, and even if the team forfeited the throwing of the cochonnet) aiming to get it as close as possible to the cochonnet.  Both feet must stay on the ground and within the circle while throwing and until the boule has landed.  Opposing players must not make a noise or interfere with the throwing player!

6. The second boule

A player from the other team then steps into the circle and tries to throw their boule closer to the cochonnet.  Players must throw within 1 minute of their turn starting. The boule now nearest to the cochonnet is said to be “holding”.  As well as simply landing a boule closer to the target, players can tactically “bomb” opposition boules out of the way or hit the cochonnet  to achieve this objective.  If the cochonnet goes out of bounds then the end is void and is replayed.  Any boule going completely out of bounds, even if it rolls back in, is taken out of play.  A boule lying against or on a boundary marker remains in play.

7. Subsequent order of play

Players in the team that is not “holding” throw and continue to play until they place a boule closest to the cochonnet. Then the other team throws until they get closest, and so on. Players on the same team can throw in any order, but each player must always play their own boules. If it can’t be decided which of two opposing boules lies closest to the cochonnet,  the team which threw last continues to play unless they have no boules left.

8. When one team has no more boules

When a team has no more boules to play, the players of the other team throw their remaining boules and try to place them as close as possible to the cochonnet to score additional points.

9. Counting the points

When both teams have no more boules the points are counted for the “end”. The winning team scores one point for every boule nearer the cochonnet than the opposition’s closest boule.

10. Starting the next end

A player from the team that won the previous end throws the cochonnet from a new circle marked round the cochonnet’s last position, or another spot if both teams agree.

11. Winning the game

The winners are the first team to reach 13 points (or whatever total was decided in advance).

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French “Trompe de Chasse” or

“Cor de Chasse” Hunting Horns

Normandy is famous for its horses and, by association, with hunting on horseback.  One characteristic of hunting with hounds on horseback are the amazing hunting horns that frequently accompany the riders. These brass horns are some fifteen feet in length, rolled into a spiral.

Trompe de chasse

For centuries horns of various types have been used by hunters in Europe to communicate with each other and their hounds in the forest and to signal their positions. However, the modern French style of “trompe de chasse” was developed in the early 19th century as a musical instrument before it was adopted by hunters.

Nowadays there are groups of enthusiasts who play these horns purely for pleasure, with no connection to actual hunting. There are even “fanfare” competitions for hunting horn players at local, national and international level.

The sound produced by hunting horns is particularly suited to the acoustics of high, vaulted ceilings and concerts are regularly given in churches across Normandy-Maine, particularly around the feast of Saint Hubert (30th May), patron saint of hunters and forest workers. In September 2010 a group of hunting horn players from the “Club Sonneurs Normand” played in the village church here at Ancinnes and we popped along to listen to them.

Here are a few snippets from their performance.

French Hunting Horns in Ancinnes Church

Lung-busting stuff – a long fanfare can leave the player fairly exhausted!

History of Hunting Horns

The brass horns that are used nowadays can trace their origins back to 17th century musical instruments; horns were made of varying lengths and numbers of turns, but between 1814-1818 the model known as the “Orléans” was developed and that is what players use now.

This type of hunting horn is about 4.5 metres long with 3.5 turns. Its name comes from Louis-Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, who placed the original order for fifty horns of this type.

This unusual instrument, equally at home in the church or the forest, is now a deeply rooted part of the French cultural heritage or “patrimoine”.

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Fête de la Chasse et de la Pêche

Fête de la Chasse et de la Pêche, Carrouges

Fête de la Chasse et de la Pêche, Carrouges

This weekend sees the annual summer fair at Château de Carrouges.  Themed around horseback hunting and fishing, the “Fête de la Chasse et de la Pêche” attracts over 75,000 visitors to Carrouges each year.

The entry ticket includes a tour of the château interior – the Château de Carrouges is always worth a visit and is open all year round apart from Xmas Day. See separate posts Château de Carrouges for details of visits at other times of year.

The fair is spread over 30 hectares in the grounds of this magnificent château, with shows and demonstrations on various topics such as dogs, horses, hunting horns, fishing, forestry, Normandy produce (cider, cheese, calvados etc.),  sheep dog trials taking place throughout the first weekend of August 5friday to Sunday).

Both official and friendly competitions and events take place during the weekend.  Lots of food ans snack stalls, bars, tastings etc. plus special temporary restaurants serving full menus from 15€ to 23€ for a “menu gastronomique”.


Adults 9€, up to 15 years old free.

Outline Programme for the Weekend Fair:

Friday 31 July 2009
From 10am: Visits to the Castle, produce stands and “villages”.

Saturday 1st August 2009
9 am: Start of competitions and events

14h30 to 18h30: many shows and demonstrations

Demonstrations of carriage driving and horsemanship from the world famous Haras du Pin, drag hunting, working dogs, falconry displays, hunting horn playing competitions … and much more


Sunday 2 August 2009
9 am: Start of competitions and events

Mass in celebration of SAINT-HUBERT

14h30 to 18h30: shows and demonstrations, see Saturday

20.30: Entertainment, music, dancing



Carrouges is about 30 minutes from our bed and breakfast, just to the the north-east of Alençon.


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On April 7th 2009 (3.00pm) we’ll be going to see the Russian Red Army and Navy Singers and Dancers who are performing at the “Carré au Perche” entertainment centre at Mortagne-au-Perche.

Fifty singers, dancers and musicians from the Russian northern fleet will be performing all styles of music and dance – traditional, folk, jazz, a capella – demonstrating their wonderful artistry and agility in the ensemble’s own unique style. They promise to take us on an “unforgettable journey that evokes the Russia of yesterday and today, combining the classical folklore of Russia with a naval theme”. Their song “Goodbye Mountains”, written by Jarkovski, has become the anthem of the Russian Fleet. Sixty years after its formation, the Northern Fleet troupe has given more than eleven thousand concerts in Russia and throughout the world.

A rare opportunity, and one not to be missed!

Au Carré du Perche, Le Choeur et la Danse des Marins de l’Armée Russe, mardi 7 avril 15.00h

50 artistes et musiciens, tous marins de la Flotte du Nord, musiciens, comédiens, danseurs mêlent tous les genres, abordent tous les styles : traditionnelles, populaires, jazz, chant a capella, musique sacrée… Des voix superbes, des danseurs d’une agilité extrême et surtout une inspiration qui vient de loin. La Marine de la Fédération de Russie ne compte que quatre troupes officielles en activité dont fait partie l’ensemble de la Flotte du Nord, que nous vous proposons de découvrir.

Embarquerez vers des voyages inoubliables qui évoquent la Russie d’hier et d’aujourd’hui. Le Nord est l’âme du répertoire, les classiques et le folklore de la Russie tournent autour du thème de la mer. Ces marins forment une véritable troupe d’artistes professionnels. Leur chanson « Adieu les montagnes », écrite par Jarkovski est même devenu l’hymne de la Flotte russe. Soixante ans après l’ensemble de la Flotte du Nord aura donnée plus de onze mille concerts en Russie et dans le monde entier.

Des danses effectuées avec une technique et une légèreté qui effacent le périlleux et la difficulté des figures. Pour les artistes de la Flotte du Nord le spectacle semble une respiration du corps et de l’âme.

Tarif individuel 33€
Groupe de 10 personnes 30€ (11ème place gratuite)

Renseignements: Office de Tourisme de Mortagne-au-Perche Le Carré du Perche

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