English Language Pétanque Guides

Harwell Thrasher’s “Winning Pétanque” (2022) is a welcome addition to Byron Putnam’s “Pétanque: The Greatest Game You Never Heard Of” (2011).

Google’s Pétanque Doodle

Pétanque aficionados around the world awoke on July 31 to a surprise: “Celebrating Pétanque,” a new Doodle game on their Google search engine (https://www.google.com/doodles/celebrating-petanque).


A war of words in the French and British press broke out early this month during the annual Mondial La Marseillaise, the Pétanque World Cup.

Triples to Doubles

Why are petanque boules sold in sets of three when vintage photos show two boules in leather sling carriers?


An abundance of bleue, blanc et rouge clothing, French café music, and tricolor flags made for a festive Bastille Day celebration on July 16.


The Oakmont Pétanque Club celebrates its 2022 Bastille Day Fête on Saturday, July 16. Bastille Day is the French national holiday commemorating the storming of


“Sweet Time Pétanque: In the Cool of the Evening” will begin with an informal soirée of socializing over dessert and drinks at 6:30 p.m. on


Born from accommodation to disability, the Pétanque origin story is one of the most interesting in sport.


The first tournament of the year, Le Printemps: Homage to Spring, will kick off with registration on Saturday, April 30, at 9:30 a.m. at the Pétanque Courts (mêlée format: randomly assigned teams). Play is limited by the capacity of the courts to the first 18 registrants.


The two pétanque positions for pointing are standing and squatting. Some players, including many of the best, rarely use the squat position. But others, including some of the world’s best, use the iconic squat position frequently.


The Petanque Club of Oakmont invites you to play the French game of Petanque. Petanque rules of play are similar to the Italian game of


Just as the rules include specifications for competition boules, they also include requirements for jacks (also called cochonnets, bouchons, buts). Jacks, which may be natural or painted, must be made of wood or a synthetic material and have a diameter of 29-31 millimeters and a weight of 10-18 grams. Magnetic jacks, which are popular in informal, friendly games when players sometimes use dangling or telescoping magnetic lifters to retrieve their boules, are not approved for national and international competition.


Pétanque boules, about the size of baseballs and weighing about 1.5 pounds, are made by welding two steel hemispheres together and covering the resulting ball with metal. They fall into two categories: “leisure” and “competition.”


In the three bowls sports – lawn bowls, bocce, and pétanque — the lawn bowls “jack” is by far the largest target ball and the bocce “pallino” is the next largest while the pétanque target ball is by far the smallest, just 1.14 – 1.22” in diameter. But as an article in All About Pétanque points out, although it may be diminutive in size the pétanque target ball has the richest vocabulary of names.


The Oakmont Pétanque Club celebrated its 25th year throughout 2021. Roster membership has increased nearly 45%. The Club begins the new year with a genuine appreciation for veteran members and an enthusiastic welcome to newer members. Anyone interested, regardless of experience, is welcome to join and enjoy the challenge and camaraderie of playing pétanque. It’s a simple game, learned quickly, fun to play, and fascinating in its deeper levels of strategy.

Pétanque and Art in Napa

Planning a weekend day trip to Napa? Now you can combine a game of pétanque – played as part of a hand-on contemporary art installation – with a visit to current exhibits and an expansive permanent collection of Bay Area contemporary artists at the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, 5200 Sonoma Highway, Napa.

Pointing Technique: Regard the Donnée

Aiming to hit the cochonnet when pointing invariably results in passing it long while aiming at it to get close often falls victim to surface irregularities. In contrast, Alec Stone Sweet of La Boule New Yorkais Club describes basic pointing technique: carefully consider the cochonnet’s position and distance, then assess the surface and aim at a landing spot from which the boule will run up to the cochonnet: “Focus only on the spot you are trying to hit,” Sweet advises. “Pick a specific landing spot on the ground [the donnée (duh-nay)] and then try to hit that spot.”


In its fundamentals, pétanque is simple, social, and fun. Together with every player’s aspiration continuously to improve personal skills in pointing and shooting, the complexity and nuance of team strategy make playing pétanque engaging and challenging, both individually and as a team. It’s been called “the perfect individual team sport.”

Oktoberfest 2021

The Pétanque Club’s October 16 Oktoberfest celebration began with the annual Oktoberfest Tournament, the last tourney of the year. Tournament Director Jean-michel Poulnot handled registration of players and randomization of teams with the Club’s “Fanny” looking on. Fanny, “the Goddess of Pétanque,” is the focal point of the traditional ritual that follows losing in a 13-0 shutout. But once again there were no shutouts so Fanny, in the end, was not needed.


At the end of each round, there is a complex “dance” of players in close proximity to each other identifying, bending down, and picking up their boules. Individual “moves” in this dance can also include kicking one’s boules away from the pack before picking them up or using a dangling or telescoping magnetic lifter to retrieve boules in the midst of the pack.

So, an etiquette question naturally arises: “Since I’m down here anyway, should I also pick up the nearby boules of other players and hand their boules to them?” The short answer: “No.” The longer answer: “If and only if such assistance is actually needed and asked-for.”


Pétanque players stand inside a circle to throw their boules. Under the rules, the circle functions as a foot foul line. Beyond the rules, though, the circle occupies a singular place in the mores of the game. A player steps into the circle to do all the mental and physical work required to prepare and execute a throw.

Once inside the circle, the player is totally alone, focusing intently on shutting out all distractions in order to concentrate solely and completely on the task of pointing or shooting a boule. Thus the “zen” of Pétanque is in the circle.


The annual Oktoberfest celebration, canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, will kick off on Saturday, October 16, at 9:30 a.m. at the Pétanque Courts with registration for the Oktoberfest Tournament (melée format: randomly assigned teams). The Tournament, the club’s second of 2021, is limited by the capacity of the courts to the first 18 registrants.
Club member Jean-michel Poulnot is the tournament director who will handle registration and randomization of teams. Play begins at 9:45 a.m. Winning teams will be announced at the conclusion. A Potluck Lunch, to which all club members are invited whether playing or not, as well as their spouses/partners/companions, will begin at approximately 12 noon.

All About Boules

Playing pétanque is relatively inexpensive since the game requires just a set of three identically patterned boules. The Club has boules for lending to players new to the game. But at some point most players want to have their own boules, which are metal, sold in sets of three, and last for years. Boules are finished both in smooth surfaces and in various patterns so players can distinguish them.

Boules fall into three categories: “leisure,” higher grade leisure, and “competition.” Leisure boules are chrome and a set typically costs about $20. Higher grade leisure boules are usually stainless steel and typically cost about $70. Competition boules are various grades of specialty alloy and typically range from about $70 – $325.

A Busy July

The Club has wrapped up a busy July and returned to regular Wednesday-Saturday play while looking forward to participating in OVA’s Join a Club Night on September 28 and to the next tournament, Oktoberfest, on Saturday, October 16.

Bastille Day 2021

Jean-michel Poulnot, en béret and fully dressed for the part, led the assembly in his inimitable and always rousing rendition of La Marseillaise. During the potluck picnic lunch that followed, Debbie Knapp provided surprise entertainment, playing cabaret tunes on her accordion and musically transporting the pétancoeurs to the banks of the Seine.

Bastille Day Tournament

The Pétanque Club looks forward with great anticipation to sponsoring its first tournament of the year on Bastille Day, Wednesday, July 14. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.


Playing pétanque is easy, but like most sports playing it well requires focus. By rule, a player whose turn it is to throw has one minute to do so. Alec Stone Sweet of FPUSA urges intentional use of that time. “Never point or shoot until you feel ready to do so,” Sweet advises, “get balanced and comfortable” in the circle, both physically and mentally. “If you miss a shot or play badly, step out of the round, take a deep breath; give yourself a chance to rethink what you are going to do.” Sweet agrees with the maxim that throwing too quickly will almost always yield sloppy play.

Club Play Every Wednesday, Saturday

With French star players unable to compete and fans unable to watch live televised matches on the French sports television channel, L’Equipe, due to the pandemic, two championship players created the Facebook Group “Club Maboule” and organized a virtual national precision shooting tournament broadcast live on Facebook. The top competitors comprised a never-before-assembled group of renowned men’s and women’s players for the marksmanship challenge.


SAVE THE DATE: JULY 14 The Oakmont Pétanque Club has tentatively scheduled its first tournament for 2021, the Bastille Day Tournament, for Bastille Day, Wednesday,


An interesting pétanque scoring quirk is “la malédiction” (the curse) of taking a 7-0 lead in a game. Remarkably often, a team leading 7-0 goes on to lose.


Regular Club play has returned on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 9:45 a.m. with Sonoma County’s movement to the Orange tier.


Pétanque England has awarded Mike Cubitt, Chairman of the Gravesend, Kent Pétanque Club and President of the Kent Pétanque League, its inaugural President’s Medal. The

Pétanque Club

PLAYING TIP: SLOW IT DOWNThe official Pétanque rules specify that a next throw must be made within a minute of the previous throw or completion


Boules being tossed on leisurely afternoons in Provençal village squares dotted with plane trees, or on gravel-patch streets in front of cafés bordered outside by


Awaiting play for an Inauguration Day pickup game. French expatriates brought pétanque with them when emigrating to the U.S. and Canada. In the early 1950s


At the highest levels of national and international competition, where pétanque is regarded more as semi-professional sport than leisure game, official efforts continue to introduce


ALL ABOUT BOULES With the gift-giving season at hand, popular blogsite All About Petanque (petanque.wordpress.com) recently announced that Pétanque America (petanqueamerica.com) is once again selling

Pétanque Club: Report from Spain

CURRENT RULES FOR PLAY Pétanque play via player-arranged pickup games continues on the Oakmont courts between Berger and the OVA offices/Umpqua Bank. Using the two

Petanque Club 12-15-2019

Don McPherson PÉTANQUE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS The 17th Women and Juniors Pétanque World Championships, a six-day competition involving 449 athletes from 49 countries, concluded November 24

Pétanque Club 7-2-1019

Don McPherson LEARNING PÉTANQUE Pétanque, the French game of boules, is a fun, social game popular worldwide that people of all skill and physical ability

Pétanque Club (5/15/2019)

Don McPherson LEARNING PÉTANQUE Pétanque is a fun, social game popular world-wide that people of all skill and physical ability levels can play. If you’re