About Petanque

What is Petanque ?

Petanque is bowling game with rules similar to lawn bowls. The game is played on sand or gravel using steel balls (boules) which are tough, durable and easy to carry. It is a very casual and relaxed game ideally suited to the Australian climate. Playing requirements are minimal.

Who can play?

Anyone can play petanque, it’s for men and woman of all ages.

Where can you play?

Anywhere you find a small piece of flat sand or gravel, eg. carparks, bush tracks, paths, beach, lawn or grassed areas…

How many people in a game?

Any number between two or six. The maximum number of balls used in a game is 12.

When can you play?

Anytime. Holidays, lunch breaks, picnics, barbeques. Petanque is a year round sport.


The first rules for a game similar to our beloved petanque were written down in Scotland in 1849, where it was called « Bowls ». In 1894 the French laid out rules for what was called « Boule Lyonnaise ».
Since Boule Lyonnaise involved some acrobatics – you had to step out of a drawn circle as far as possible with one foot – a physically disabled man named Jules Lenoir in a Southern French Town called La Ciotat laid out the rules for Petanque in 1910.
The main difference between this new game and Boule Lyonnaise was that your feet had to be close together. Joined feet in French is « pieds tanqués », hence the name « Pétanque ».

How to play?

Simple rules of Petanque

Players form opposing teams generally of one, two or three players. The maximum number of boules (metal balls) used in a game is twelve.


Singles          1 player       3 boules each player
Doubles        2 players     3 boules each player
Triples           3 players      2 boules each player

Teams toss a coin to decide which team plays first. The winner selects where they would like to play then draws a circle on the ground 35-50cm in diameter. From the circle one player throws the cochonnet (small wooden ball) between 6 and 10 metres.
The first player then throws one boule towards the cochonnet, aiming to get as close as possible. The boule is thrown while standing still in the circle, with the palm of the throwing hand facing downwards when releasing the boule
The opposing team then throws a boule, attempting to get closer to the cochonnet. If they get closer to the cochonnet, the first team plays again. If they do not get closer, they continue to throw until they do so or run out of boules, whichever comes first.
The team not closer to the cochonnet keeps playing until they get closer or run out of boules.
When all boules have been played the score is added up. The boule closest to the cochonnet wins the end and scores one point for that team. Additional points are scored for any other boules the winning team has closer to the cochonnet than the opposition’s closest boule.
The winner of the end draws a circle around the cochonnet and begins a new end.
Play continues until one team scores 13 points.

PFA Official Rules 2021

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