What Is Pétanque Game?: History of (pétanque) and How To Play It

Petanque is a ball game that has the perfect combination and is fun to play on the beach. This game is almost a national sport of France. Not everyone knows What Is Pétanque Game?: History of (pétanque) and How To Play It.

Petanque can be played recreationally as well as professionally. But petanque is known to bring out the competitive nature of the people who play. Petanque boules can be a very comprehensive game, and it’s also easy to learn. Discover how to play and the rules that apply in Petanque.


What Is Pétanque Game?

Petanque is a French game played outdoors. It is usually played by two teams to try to throw boules. Boules are metal balls of orange-like shape and size. The game is very simple as well as fun to play.

The word Petanque comes from the Provincial language meaning pied horses. It comes from the verb tanker with the meaning of binding or anchoring.


History of Pétanque

Petanque Traditional History

By the early 6th century BC the Ancient Greeks had played coin toss games, flat stones, and stone balls, called spheristics. The Ancient Romans added targets to the game that should be aimed as close as possible. Roman variations were brought to Provence (southern France) by Roman soldiers and sailors.

In a Roman tomb in Florence, Italy, there is a headstone depicting a man playing this game with decorations on his headstone that appears to be a person bowing to measure points.

After that, the Roma people replaced the original target of the stone ball with a wooden ball. In the Middle Ages, Erasmus referred to the game as a globurum, but subsequently, by various circles, it was better known as ‘boule,’ or ball, and the game began to be played throughout Europe.

King Henry III of England forbade the game and replaced it with an archer. He wants his citizens to practice archery more as a defense of the country than to play bole.

In the 14th century, Charles IV and Charles V of France banned all sports for commoners, who could exercise only among nobles. This prohibition was only in the 17th century lifted.

In the 19th century, in England, the sport was called lawn-bowling, while in France, it remained known as a boule that could be played in all walks of life. Two paintings by Meissonnier, a French artist, depicting people playing games. Honoré de Balzac in La Comédie humaine portrays the game in its plays.

The boule is now called a Provencal jeu in the South of France. It’s a type of petanque that requires the player to run three steps before the ball can be thrown. The game is played in villages throughout Provence, on a dirt field under the shade of a tree. The game is told in detail in the memoirs of novelist Marcel Pagnol.


History of Modern Petanque

In its current form, the petanque was discovered by Jules Boule Lenoir, a French Lyonnaise player. The pitch or pitch length is reduced by about half, and the pitch is moved replaced by a stationary one.

In 1910, Joseph Pitiot, owner of La Ciotat’s cafe, organized the first petanque tournament using new rules. With the establishment of the International Federation of Petanque Fédération Internationale de petanque et Jeu (FIPJP) in 1958 in Marseille, the first World Championships were held in 1959.


Petanque Game Rules

Basic Rules

Teams in Petanque

The game is always played by two teams. Each team must have the same number of players, ranging from 1 to 4. Each player has 2 to 3 boules. The maximum number of boules per team must not exceed 12. As a consequence, players in teams of 3 or 4, can only use 2 boules.



The goal of the game is for each team to get the closest boule to a but or Cochon.


Play area

The play area is either rectangular or open to all teams. Judges or organizing committees can restrict the use of these areas. The play area should be flat, and fairly free of fragile or valuable items.


Throwing area

Players throw boules from within circles or semicircles drawn on the ground, with a diameter of about 50 cm. As the game progresses, the location of the circle inside the play area changes. All players have to put their feet in the circle when it’s their turn to throw boules.

If it’s not your turn, other players should enjoy the cold pastis, which are anise-flavored liquors popular in France. In addition, they also have to avoid interfering with each other’s throws. You should not touch the boule after it has been thrown in the play area. Pastis can be enjoyed outside the context of pétanque and should be consumed in excess.



The game starts with drawing a throwing circle. Players throw but about 6 to 10 meters from the circle. For recreational activities, this rule can be bent to accommodate the needs of players. The first player from Team A throws Boule close to them but, so touches him.

Team B’s first player then throws a boule. The next throwing team depends on the team that has the closest boule to the but. If the team does not have the nearest boule throw, then it must throw several boules in a row, so that it can place the boule closer to the but than the boule that the other team has.

The order of players in a particular team is not an issue, and a player can throw more than one boule in a row. The game ends when both teams run out of boules. The winning team is those who have one or more boules closest to them but.



Partie de boules is a group of games that are played to achieve the desired score. Usually, it’s 13 points.

Points are determined as follows:

For each game, the winning team increases its score by the number of boules closer to the but than the nearest opponent’s boule.

If the nearest boule is Team A 1 meter to 3 meters from the but, and the nearest boule Team B is 5 meters away from the but, Team A earns two points.

What Is Pétanque Game?: History of (pétanque) and How To Play It

How To Play It?


Divided into two teams

Petanque is played with two teams. Choose which players will be playing on which team. There are three options:

  • Doubles (2 players per team). Each player gets three boules.
  • Triple (3 players per team). Each player gets two boules.
  • Single (one on one). Each player gets three boules.


Share boules with each team member

Make sure the material and size are right. The Boule Petanque should weigh 1.5 pounds (700g) and be made of metal. You should also have one target ball, known as a “cochonnet” or “jack.” Jacks must be 1.25 inches (3 cm) in diameter.


Draw circles on the ground for you to play

The circle should measure approximately 20 inches (50cm) in diameter. Whenever players are playing, they have to stand inside the circle, and both their legs have to be on the ground.


Decide which team to play first

This can be by reversing coins or suits, to determine which team plays first.


Playing games

Have a member of the first team stand in a circle and throw a jack

They can throw jacks in any direction. It should land between 20-33 feet (6-10 meters) from the circle and must be at least 3 feet (1 meter) from any object (such as a tree) that might interfere with the player’s swing.

After throwing the jack, ask the same team member to throw the first boule

They should be in the middle of the circle and attempt to make a boule near the jack or (preferably) in front.


Have a member of the second team stand in a circle and throw a boule

The second team’s goal was to end their boule closer to jack. If the second team succeeds, it will get the closest boule to jack. Teams that don’t have points, have to play the next boule. In addition, they must continue to play until they get points or run out of boules.


Change teams when a throwing team earns points

If Team A’s member throws a boule closest to the Jack, Team A wins the points. Team B then has to throw. If Team A throws a boule and then hits the jack closer than Team B, Team B earns points. Then it’s time for Team A to throw. This continued until both teams got out of the boule.


Winning a Round

Continue until both teams throw all their boules

This is the stage to end the round. If one team uses all its boules first, the opposing team will throw all remaining boules. The round ended after all the boules from both teams had been thrown.


Calculate the score for the winning team

After all the boules were thrown, the team with the best boules won the round. The winning team gets one point if their boule is closer to jack. Losing teams certainly don’t get points.


Starting a New Chapter

Start the next round

To do this, the team that won the last round drew a new circle on the ground. They also threw away the jack. In the new circle, all players must stand up to throw their boules. The winning team from the previous round went first.


Continue playing until one team reaches 13 points

Continue the game until it results in the team winning and losing.


Can petanque be played on grass?

Petanque can be played on any field. However, grassy pitches or smooth surfaces such as bocce pitches are not recommended. Grass can slow down the ball and it will be difficult to roll it.

The presence of hidden grass is also one of the inhibitory factors, so players will have difficulty avoiding the obstacles because they can’t see them.

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Best Surface For Petanque

Petanque can be played anywhere. You can play it in the garden, hard surfaces such as asphalt or concrete. In addition, you can also play it on the sand as well as grassless soil.

However, the best surface to play petanque on is gravel. Gravel provides friction while allowing the ball to roll smoothly on top of it. The most important thing is that the surface is dry and easy to drain.

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One Comment

  1. magnificent post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not notice this. You should continue your writing. I am sure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

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