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Shari Downs shooting in a recent Saturday match, teammates Jim Knapp and Max Hinchman looking on.

If you’re interested in playing or learning pétanque, come to the courts (between Berger and the OVA offices/Umpqua Bank and beside the Shuffleboard courts) at 9:45 am on the Club play days of Wednesday and Saturday. We have boules to lend and you’ll be playing right away. Anyone interested, regardless of experience, is welcome to join in. No Club membership fees are required – just sign up to be on the Club roster. Club play days are casual friendly games with teams randomly assigned. The courts are also reserved 10 am – noon for Club player-arranged pickup games on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Our first 2021 tourney, the Bastille Day Tournament, is scheduled for Wednesday, July 14.

Northern California, geographically the smallest of seven regions in the Federation of Pétanque USA, has the greatest concentration of Pétanque clubs in the country. North Bay pétanque clubs welcome guests to their casual friendly play – so keep boules in the car for road trips.

Nearby Valley of the Moon Pétanque Club ( in Sonoma is one of the largest and most active clubs in the U.S. Founded in the late 1990s, VOMPC maintains more than two dozen courts with a wide variety of terrains in Depot Park, just north of the historic Sonoma Plaza. There are open friendly games every weekday afternoon – and most weekends – beginning around 3:00 pm. All are invited to join. Newcomers to the game are especially welcome. Several members of the Oakmont Club are also VOMPC members. (

Valley of the Moon Pétanque Club in Sonoma is one of the largest and most active clubs in the country (photo by VOMPC).

The Petaluma Valley Pétanque Club ( hosts open play on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at its terrain in Oak Hill Park at the end of Oak Street, just above Howard Street, in Petaluma. Established in 2007, this active, friendly Club warmly welcomes guests to its casual games. (

Just a little further south, La Pétanque Marinièree Club in San Rafael, ( established in 1972, is one of the oldest clubs in the U.S. The Club’s Pierre Joske pétanque courts with varied terrains are located on a beautiful parkland site on Civic Center Drive just below the Marin Civic Center. There are open, friendly games on Saturday and Sunday from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm. On Sundays, you can combine pétanque with a visit to the Marin Farmers Market within walking distance of the courts. (

Although play schedule information is accurate as of this writing, all clubs are still dealing with returning from Covid-19 shutdowns and restrictions, so check the web and/or Facebook pages for current schedules and contact information to confirm plans. Information on other NorCal clubs within day-trip drives in Lafayette and Mather (Sacramento) will be in the next issue.