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

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.

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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.

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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.

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