Highest Fédération Internationale de Pétanque et Jeu Provençal
First playedProvence, France
Team membersIndividual, Doubles and Triples
EquipmentBoules (balls) & cochonnet (little ball)
World Games1985 – present
The sport of Pétanque being played in Marseille

Pétanque (French pronunciation: ​[petɑ̃k]; Occitan: petanca [peˈtaŋkɔ]) is a sport that falls into the category of boules sports, along with raffa, bocce, boule lyonnaise, lawn bowls and crown green bowling. All of these sports share something in common, in that players or teams play their boules/balls towards a target ball.

In Pétanque the objective is to score points by having boules closer to the target than your opponent after all boules have been thrown. This is achieved by projecting boules closer to the target, called a cochonnet,[1] or by hitting the opponents' boules away from the target, while standing inside a circle with both feet on the ground.

The game is normally played on hard dirt or gravel. It can be played in public areas in parks, or in dedicated facilities called boulodromes.

Pétanque players on the beach in Nice.

The current form of the game originated in 1907 or 1910 in La Ciotat, in Provence, France. The French name pétanque (borrowed into English, with or without the acute accent) comes from petanca in the Provençal dialect of the Occitan language, deriving from the expression pès tancats [ˈpɛs taŋˈkats], meaning 'feet fixed' or 'feet planted' (on the ground).[2]


Invention of the game

Boules games have a very long history, dating back through the Middle Ages to ancient Rome, and before that to ancient Greece and Egypt.

In France in the second half of the 19th century a form of boules known as jeu provençal (or boule lyonnaise) was extremely popular. In this form of the game players rolled their boules or ran three steps before throwing a boule. Pétanque originally developed as an offshoot or variant of jeu provençal in 1910, in what is now called the Jules Lenoir Boulodrome in the town of La Ciotat near Marseilles. A former jeu provençal player named Jules Lenoir was afflicted by rheumatism so severe that he could no longer run before throwing a boule. In fact, he could barely stand. A good friend named Ernest Pitiot was a local café owner. In order to accommodate his friend Lenoir, Pitiot developed a variant form of the game in which the length of the pitch or field was reduced by roughly half, and a player, instead of running to throw a boule, stood, stationary, in a circle. They called the game pieds tanqués, "feet planted" (on the ground), a name that eventually evolved into the game's current name, pétanque.[3]

The first pétanque tournament was organized by Ernest Pitiot, along with his brother Joseph Pitiot, in 1910 in La Ciotat. After that the game spread quickly and soon became the most popular form of boules in France.

Before the mid-1800s, European boules games were played with solid wooden balls, usually made from boxwood root, a very hard wood. The late 1800s saw the introduction of cheap mass-manufactured nails, and wooden boules gradually began to be covered with nails, producing boules cloutées ("nailed boules"). After World War I, cannonball manufacturing technology was adapted to allow the manufacture of hollow, all-metal boules. The first all-metal boule, la Boule Intégrale, was introduced in the mid-1920s by Paul Courtieu. The Intégrale was cast in a single piece from a bronze-aluminum alloy. Shortly thereafter Jean Blanc invented a process of manufacturing steel boules by stamping two steel blanks into hemispheres and then welding the two hemispheres together to create a boule. With this technological advance, hollow all-metal balls rapidly became the norm.[4]

Global spread of the game

After the development of the all-metal boule, pétanque spread rapidly from Provence to the rest of France, then to the rest of Europe, and then to Francophone colonies and countries around the globe. Today, many countries have their own national governing bodies.

Pétanque players in FFPJP) has more than 300,000 licensed members.

There are strong national federations in Germany, Spain, and England. Petanque is actively played in many nations with histories of French colonial influence, especially in Southeast Asia, including Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.

Pétanque was featured at the 2015 All-Africa Games, which were hosted by the Republic of Congo, a former French colony.[5]

Petanque is not widely played in the Americas. There is a Canadian petanque federation based in (FPUSA) reports that about 30,000 play nationwide. As of December 1, 2015, FPUSA counted 2141 members in the US, in 52 affiliated clubs.[6]

On the international level, the FIPJP). It was founded in 1958 in Marseille and has about 600,000 members in 52 countries as of 2002.

In popular culture: The game makes an appearance in the 1966 French crime film Le deuxieme souffle.

National and international competitions

There are a number of important world championship tournaments.

The FIPJP world championships take place every two years. Men's championships are held in even-numbered years, while Women's and Youth championships are held in odd-numbered years.[7]

Perhaps the best-known international championship is the Mondial la Marseillaise à Pétanque, which takes place every year in Marseille, France, with more than 10,000 participants and more than 150,000 spectators.[8]

The largest annual tournament in the United States is the Petanque Amelia Island Open (formerly the Petanque America Open), held in each year in November at Amelia Island, Florida.

La British Open is a major Pétanque tournament held in the North of England, in the United Kingdom. So far, this attracts players from across the UK and Europe.

Pétanque is not currently an Olympic sport, although the Confédération Mondiale des Sports de Boules — which was created in 1985 by several international boules organizations specifically for this purpose — has been lobbying the Olympic committee since 1985 to make it part of the summer Olympics.[9][10]

Other Languages
asturianu: Petanca
български: Петанк
català: Petanca
čeština: Pétanque
dansk: Petanque
Deutsch: Pétanque
eesti: Petank
español: Petanca
Esperanto: Petanko
euskara: Petanka
فارسی: پتانک
français: Pétanque
galego: Petanca
한국어: 페탕크
Bahasa Indonesia: Pétanque
italiano: Pétanque
עברית: פטאנק
latgaļu: Petanks
lietuvių: Petankė
magyar: Pétanque
Nederlands: Petanque
日本語: ペタンク
norsk: Petanque
occitan: Petanca
Piemontèis: Pétanque
polski: Pétanque
português: Petanca
română: Pétanque
русский: Петанк
Simple English: Petanque
slovenčina: Pétanque
slovenščina: Petanka
ślůnski: Petanque
suomi: Petankki
svenska: Boule
ไทย: เปตอง
Türkçe: Petank
українська: Петанк
Tiếng Việt: Bi sắt
walon: Petanke
中文: 法式滾球