The game of petanque is probably the sport closest to the hearts of the French . Similar to British turf bowling or Italian fish bowling, the French version is traditionally played with metal balls on a dirt surface , with a glass of pistis in hand.



Bocce is a sport whose main objective is to throw balls of metal as close as possible to a ball of wood that has been previously thrown by a player avoiding moving and from an area determined.


What is petanque

Petanque game is to throw several balls of metal to try to get as close as you can to a small ball of wood . It can be played by two opponents , in teams of two against two or in triples , regardless of the gender or age of the participants.



The English and French name for petanque comes from petanque in the Provençal dialect of the Occitan language , derived from the expression pès tancats, which means ” feet together ” or more accurately ” feet anchored “.

There are records that the ancient Greeks played to throw coins, then flat stones and later stone balls, called spherical , trying to make them go as far as possible. In the 6th century BC the ancient Romans modified the game by adding a target that they had to get as close to as possible. This Roman variation was brought to Provence by Roman soldiers and sailors . After the Romans, stone balls were replaced by wooden balls with nails to give them more weight.

In the Middle Ages it was played throughout Europe . King Henry III of England prohibited his archers from playing, and in the 14th century Charles IV and Charles V of France also banned the sport to commoners and it was in the 17th century that the ban was lifted.

In the 19th century, in England , the game had become ” bowling “; in France , it was known as boules . A game similar to today’s boules had evolved in the south of France, except that the field was larger and players had to run three steps before throwing the ball.

The first petanque tournament with new rules was organized in 1910 by the brothers Ernest and Joseph Pitiot , owners of a café in La Ciotat. Then the game grew with great speed and soon became the most popular form of petanque.

How to play petanque

A coin is tossed to decide who goes first and the phrase “Heads or tails?” . The winning team draws a circle in the sand, when it is time to shoot, each player must shoot their ball while standing with both feet on the ground.

The person from Team A who threw the cochonnet will throw his ball as close to the cochonnet as possible. Now Team B throws a ball, trying to land closer to the cochonnet than Team A. If Team B has its ball closer to the cochonnet than Team A, then it is Team A’s turn to shoot again.

If team B didn’t get their ball closer, then team B shoots again. This pattern of the team with a ball farther from the cochonnet throwing their balls continues until one or both teams have thrown all of their balls . If only one team threw all of their balls, the other team will continue to throw their balls until they come out.


The rules of the game are as follows:

  • The balls must be made of steel and one must be made of wood .
  • The first serve is drawn .
  • The player’s feet must not leave the circle .
  • The bowling alley must not be less than one meter from any obstacle.
  • When one team runs out of balls , the other must play their remaining balls .
  • When there are no more balls, the points are counted .


The competition models are as follows:

  • Model of 8 teams in direct elimination.
  • 16-team models for direct elimination.
  • Models of 32 teams in direct elimination.
  • Models of 32 teams in direct elimination plus consolation .
  • Groups of 4, 6 and 8 .

Equipment to play petanque

The necessary equipment to be able to practice and play petanque consists of the following materials:

  • 6 steel balls (known by the name of les boules).
  • 1 small wooden ball (known as le cochonnet, although it is also known as le bouchon).
  • A track to play.


The track should preferably be sand or gravel , the grass should be short or the ground in good condition. The sport can also be practiced on all types of terrain, although it is generally done in flat and sandy areas.

The tracks are rectangular and measure 15 m long with a width of 4 m for national and international competitions, although they can have a minimum dimensions of 12 mx 3 m for other competitions.

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