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 The French ‘boule’ game of Pétanque was born in the south of France in 1907 and is now played everywhere in the world.


It is played with metal boules and a small wooden ball called the ‘cochonnet’ or 'Jack'. You can play in single, doubles or triples. It is played with 2 or 3 boules each. Although it can become a highly skilled and strategic game it can also be played by anybody as its rules are very simple.

Unlike the English game of Bowls, Pétanque is generally played on terrains consisting of gravel or compacted dirt. Rather than rolling balls along the floor as in Bowls, in Pétanque you throw the “boules” through the air.

The jack is thrown by the team who won the toss at a distance between 6 and 10 metres. This team throws the first boule as close to the jack as possible. The other team then must try and get closer. The team furthest must carry on until they get closer to the jack. When the players have run out of boules ‘the end’ is finished and the closest team get points for each of their boule closest to the jack than their opponents.

The team who won the end get to throw the jack in the next end (an important tactical advantage). If a team plays with 6 boules it is possible to score 6 points in one go. The first team to get to 13 points has won.

There are 2 main ways of playing which are ‘point’ (throwing the boule close to the jack) and ’shoot' (knocking out an opponent boule which is too close to the jack or a boule which stops you from scoring more points)

Petanque is a very tactical sport, almost like Chess on gravel. Knowing when to be really aggressive, and when to defend is an important part of the sport. These decisions are often influenced by how many balls your team has left, and how many balls your opposition has left to throw.

When you have more balls than your opposition then you should play aggressively to score lots of points. If you opponents have a lot more balls than you then you need to be defensive to stop your rivals scoring lots of points.

Why should you play Petanque

  • The game is easy to pick up no matter how good or bad your sporting ability

  • You don’t have to have good fitness to play, we have wheelchair access to clubhouse and terrain

  • Suitable for players of any age, players can play from 6 years upwards with no upper limit. 

  • Fun, social sport

  • Great outdoor activity

  • With a bit of coaching you can become a decent player in a just a matter of weeks.

  • There are plenty of opportunities to play in competitions at club, regional and national level if you have ambitions to do so.

  • Cheap sporting activity – membership is only £5-£20 per year (39p per week) If you decide to purchase your own set of competition boules later, they will last for years 

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