Petanque – Pétanque – A Ball (Boule) Of Fun!



The current version of Petanque was invented in La Ciotat, a fishing village outside Marseille, France in 1907.  Unlike earlier versions of Boules which required the player to run with the ball (boule) before pitching it, the Pétanque player remains stationary.  The playing field has been reduced in size and is generally played on an open field or on a court from 3 to 4 feet wide by 15 to 20 feet long.

Petanque or properly known as Pétanque derives it’s name from the Provencal phrase pèd tanca, meaning “anchored feet”.  The game is played with a set of six heavy, metal boules (balls) and a small  wooden jack called a cochonnet, or little pig.  Games can be played with 2 teams of 1 to 3 players each and a set of 3 to 6 boules per team.  More competitive teams usually consist of  a “roller” and a “striker”.   The roller’s job is to position boule as close as possible to the cochonnet.   The roll of the striker is to is to knock away the opponents boules that are closer to the cochonnet than their boules.

Petanque – How To Play

Petanque is played in a series of rounds until the score of 13 is reached.  At the beginning of each round the cochonnet is tossed out on to the course and it must go at least 8 feet.  The person who tossed the cochonnet then tosses their first ball and tries to aim their ball as close to the cochonnet as possible.  Once tossed, the other team tries to get closer to the cochonnet.  If successful, the other team must then try to get closer.  If unsuccessful, play continues for that team until they get closer or run out of balls.  In certain situations, the striker may want to throw to try to knock an opponents ball away from the cochonnet.  Once all balls have been used, scoring beings.  The team with the closest ball scores 1 point.  For every other ball that is closer to the cochonnet than their opponents 1st closest boule, they score an additional point.  The maximum points that can be scored in one round is 6.

Petanque Pétanque BoulesPétanque – What To Look For

Current Petanque league and competition balls are made of steel and have size and weight values stamped.  The older antique versions were often made from brass.  We were fortunate to have found a rather large stash of old brass pentaque Boules in Champagne, France (the same name that the drink Champagne comes from) , in a town called Reims.  They were sitting in storage at a priest’s house in the town central.  This is the same town where many French kings were crowned.  Petanque is typically found in Southern France, but has become widely popular throughout France and even becoming a national sport.

When looking for antique Petanque balls, you want to find brass ones that are between 72mm and 78mm.  Larger brass boules are probably Bocce Boules, which is another game that is very popular in Italy.  Some of the more exotic petanque boules will have studs nailed into them.  These usually run $150 or more per boule.  You can find petanque boule sets for $40-$100.  A good place to find them is on Esty or Ebay.Fr (“pétanque anciennes”).

If you get a chance to play Petanque in your area, go for it.

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