From Academic Kids

Missing image
On the beach at Nice, France

Pétanque is a form of boules where the goal is to throw metal balls as close as possible to a jack (a small wooden ball called a cochonnet in French, which means piglet). The game is normally played on hard sand/gravel, but can also be played on grass or any other surface. Similar games are bocce and bowls. Pétanque is generally associated with southern France, particularly Provence. Pétanque is the most played sport in France. The leisured form of the game of Pétanque is played by about 17 million people in France. There are about 480.000 players licenced with the Federation Française de Pétanque et Jeu Provençal (FFPJP). The FFPJP is the 4th-largest sportive federation in France. The licensed players play under the precise rules of that very competitive form of Pétanque which is called Pétanque Sport.


The game is always played in teams. In competitions there are three different configurations:

  • three players per team (two boules per player), called triples
  • two players per team (three boules per player), called doubles
  • one player per team (three boules per player), called singles

The boules are made of metal and weigh between 650 g and 800 g, with a diameter of between 71 mm and 80 mm. The jack is made of wood or synthetic material and has a diameter of between 25 mm and 35 mm.

The playing area should be at least 15 meters (49 ft) long, by 4 meters (13 ft) wide.

A player from the team that wins the toss starts the game by drawing a circle on the playing field (35 to 50 cm in diameter). Both feet must be inside this circle, touching the ground, when playing. The player then throws the jack to a distance of between 6 and 10 metres from the starting circle. The jack must be visible and at least 1 metre from any obstacle or boundary, otherwise it must be thrown again.

A player from the team that wins the toss then plays the first boule, trying to place it as close to the jack as possible. Then the opposing team must get closer to the jack and keeps playing until they succeed. When they do, it is back to the first team to do better, and so forth. When one team runs out of boules the other team plays their remaining boules.

A player may choose to 'place' a boule (get it as near as possible to the jack) or 'shoot' it (attempt to displace another boule). A point is scored for each boule that is nearer to the jack than the opposing team's nearest boule. The team that wins a round starts the next one and a new circle is drawn where the jack was in the previous round.

One game is usually played up to 13 points.


Pétanque is reputed to have been invented around 1910 as a less physically-demanding form of jeu provençal. Physical effort was reduced by reducing the length of the pitch by roughly half and replacing a moving delivery with a stationary one. The name is derived from the French pieds tanqués, "fixed feet", because in Pétanque the feet have to remain together within a (small) circle. Pétanque is also known as Jeu de Boules, "the game of balls". Many French villages have a special stadium for the game called a Boulodrome.

The international Pétanque federation Fédération Internationale de Pétanque et Jeu Provençal ( was founded in 1958 in Marseille and has about 600,000 members in 52 countries (2002).

The first World Championships were organized in 1959. The most recent championships were held in Faro/Portugal (2000), Monaco (2001), Grenoble (2002), Geneva (2003), Grenoble (2004) and Brussels will host 2005. 53 countries participated in 2004 and the number is growing every year.


de:Pétanque et:Petank fr:Pétanque ja:ペタンク ru:Петанк fi:Petankki


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