A diehard boules player has come up with an innovative idea to eke out playing hours – a glow-in-the-dark ball for late-night games.
Raphaël Paesa, from Toulouse, came up with the invention after poor light put paid to a match among friends.
“One evening when we were playing pétanque, I sorted the barbeque out and when I got back to the game, it was too dark to see,” he said.
The ‘cochonnet’ has to withstand substantial shocks
Having worked as an electronics consultant since 2019, he spotted an opportunity to create a cochonnet – the little ball which players try to hit or mask with their boules, like a jack in lawn bowls – lit by LEDs.
“I wanted to produce something environmentally friendly so the first models were fitted with rechargeable batteries which could be connected using a USB.
“However, a cochonnet can sustain substantial shocks, especially on hard ground, and there was a small safety risk.
So now they contain non-rechargeable button batteries, which can be changed when they run flat.”
Most batteries will last four hours, but Mr Paesa says this can be extended by using good quality batteries.
Customers asked to recycle batteries
His invention, called a ‘cocholed’, is made from recyclable plastic and the company sells replacement outer shells if they get damaged.
“It is another way of avoiding waste. We also hope people will recycle the batteries, by putting them in recycling bins placed at supermarkets, rather than throwing them away.”
Cocholeds are made in France and the company is moving towards sourcing all the components here too.
Traditional 'cochonnets' are made of boxwood
There is only one manufacturer of traditional cochonnets in France. Monneret, in Haut-Jura, produces around a million of them a year.
Traditionally made of boxwood, they are now increasingly made of hard plastic.
In official competitions, the cochonnet is called a but.
However, it has various other regional names, including bouchon, petit, têt, gari, cochon or pitchoune in Provence, and boulic in Brittany.