Petanque. Like bowls but stylishly French.

You might have seen it in one of those gorgeously scenic French movies, or perhaps while travelling through the French countryside, where it seems every small village has a gravel petanque court.

Petanque was first played in 1910 Provence, in the town of La Ciotat near Marseilles, with the first  tournament organised by local café owners Ernest and Joseph Pitiot. The game spread and soon became the most popular form of boules in France.

The rules of petanque are fairly simple (and no white clothes or shoes required!).  A game of commences with a coin toss- although personally,   we prefer to signal the start with the gentle pop of a champagne cork!

The team who wins the coin toss chooses the starting location; a circle of around 50cm in diameter and selects one of their players to throw out the jack. The player then stands inside the circle and throws the jack which must land within 6 to 9 metres of the starting circle and at least a metre from any obstacles.

Then the players throw the boule, also from within the starting circle and with both feet on the ground with the aim of landing it as close to the jack as possible. A player from the opposing team then steps into the circle and attempts to land his boule closer to the jack even if it means knocking his opponents out of the way. The boule closest to the jack leads or is said to be “holding the point.” The other team must continue throwing boules until they take the lead or run out of boules.

Once a team has used all its boules, the other side is allowed to throw the rest of its boules. When all boules are thrown, the points are counted. The team that has the boule closest to the jack wins the round. In addition, they also receive a point for each boule that is closer to the jack than their opponents closest boule. Only one team scores points during a round. The winners get to choose the position of the starting circle for the next round.

The first team to earn a total of 13 points wins the game.


In Australia, the Petanque Federation Australia is the peak body for the sport with member clubs in every state apart from the Northern Territory.

If you’re in Brisbane there are 3 clubs; The Brisbane Petanque Club who play at the entrance of Kalinga Park, in Clayfield, the Brisbane Southside Petanque Club who play at  William Taylor Sportsground at Thornside and the Deception Bay Petanque Club who hold matches at Bayview Terrace, Deception Bay, all welcome new players.

And if you want to have a go, charge your glasses, make a team and have a go at the petanque court at Effervescence.

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