Boulle, the son of a lawyer from Avignon, studied for his education in Paris electrical engineering. After graduating, he moved to the Far East, where he worked from 1938 as a rubber planter in Malaya. During the Second World War, he fought in the Free French forces in the Republic of China, Burma and Indonesia. In 1942, he got into Japanese captivity, from which he was able to flee in 1944. In his famous work, The Bridge on the River Kwai, he recorded his wartime experiences, particularly his captivity in Southeast Asia. To get to the will to survive, he got himself in camp writing materials to secretly record his experiences. After the war he settled first in Malaysia down, but moved in 1948 finally returned to France. Only returned there, he devoted himself to the actual writing.
- Le pont de la rivière Kwai 1952 (Eng. The Bridge on the River Kwai Rowohlt, Hamburg 1956)
- E = mc ², contes de l' absurd 1953 ( dt E = mc ²)
- Les Voies du Salut in 1958 (Eng. The flip side of the coin Rowohlt, Hamburg 1959)
- La planète the singes 1963 ( German Planet of the Apes Goldmann, Munich 1965)
- The love and the force of gravity ( German original collection of short stories. Verlag Volk und Welt, Berlin [ East ], 1970, Vol 26 range )
- Le bon Léviathan 1978 ( German The Good Leviathan Paul Zsolnay, Vienna / Hamburg 1978)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and The Planet of the Apes ( 1968) were made into successful films; Both are considered classics of modern cinema. Tim Burton created 2001 to the end of the novel more faithful remake of Planet of the Apes. For the screenplay for The Bridge on the River Kwai Boulle received in 1958 an Oscar.