About Petanque


PIck a bit of reasonably hard(ish) ground. Draw a circle in the dirt. Throw a little wooden ball to between 6 and 10 metres. Then compete as teams or individuals to throw your slightly larger metal balls closer to the little wooden one. The beauty of petanque is in it’s simplicity. That’s why it appeals to all ages and fitness groups, all genders, and even to those who are disabled.  Children regularly play alongside their parents/grandparents, and in fact the game was designed in 1910 to accommodate the needs of a disabled player who could no longer indulge in his favourite (and rather more energetic) sport of jeu provencal.  Once the basic game is learned you can progress to more complex shots and tactics, and even played at a higher level there is plenty room for a wily old tactician to beat a young hotshot.

The game was developed from Jeu Provencal, a Southern French form of boules/bowling and from it’s inception in 1910 rapidly took the whole of France by storm. Brought back to the UK by many travellers to France where it is played regularly on campsites, it has taken hold here, particulary across the South/South East of England. There are multiple clubs across the South giving opportunity to partake in interclub league play as well as friendly club play if so wished.  The game can be explained to you on your first visit to the club, but below is a precis of the rules so you can have some idea before you first arrive at the terrain. If you don’t quite ‘get it’ from the description don’t worry, it’s easier to see in real life.


The game is played by two teams of one, two, three players.  In teams of one and two, each player plays with three boules and in teams of three each player plays with two boules.

The first team is chosen by tossing a coin. Any player in this team chooses the starting place and draws a circle on the ground in which to stand. The circle should be between 35cm and 50cm across. Sometimes plastic circles are used instead – these are always 50cm across.

A player from the same team now throws the jack so that it rests between 6m and 10m away and not nearer than 1m from any obstacle (wall, tree, etc). Both of the throwers feet must remain on the ground inside the circle until the jack has hit the ground.

Any player from this team then throws the first boule trying to place near the jack. The player’s feet must again remain on the ground inside the circle.

A player in the second team comes into the circle and tries to throw his boule even nearer to the jack or knock away the leading boule placed there by the other team. The boule nearest to the jack leads.
Then it is up to players in the team not leading (i.e. the team who is not closest to the jack) to throw as many boules as are necessary so that their team has the leading boule. A player from the other team tries to get the leading boule and so on.

When one team has no more boules left to play, the players of the other team throw their remaining boules and try to place them closer to the jack than their opponent’s closest boule.

When both teams have no more boules, the points are counted. The winning teams get as many points as it has boules which are closer to the jack than the best placed boule of the losing team. For example, if Team A has three boules nearer to the jack than the nearest boule of Team B, then Team A scores three points. Use a tape measure when the distance between boules and the jack cannot be judged by eye.

An end is over when each team has thrown all its boules.

A new end is started by a player of the team which won the previous end, who throws the jack from the point where the previous end finished. A throwing circle is drawn, and the game continues until, after completion of an end, one of the teams reaches 13 points.


Full rules here – http://www.englishpetanque.org.uk/documents/Rules-ENG_2017.pdf