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[ PAY-tonk ]

Pétanque, pronounced "pay-tonk", one of Europe's most popular outdoor games, is a distant cousin of horseshoes and a close relative of bocce (a.k.a. "bocce ball", lawn bowling). The game originated in the Provence in the early 1900's. The aim is to toss, or roll a number of steel balls as close as possible to a small wooden aim ball, called "but" or "cochonnet" (meaning "piglet" in French).

Players take turns, and whoever ends up closest to the aim ball (cochonnet) when all balls are played, wins.
Unlike horseshoes, where the aim stake is fixed, petanques' aim ball may be hit at any time, which can completely turn around the score at the last second. And whereas the official bocce rules call for a prepared court, with markers and sideboards, petanque can be played on most outdoor surfaces, anytime you feel like.

No special skill is required, adults can play with children, and a game lasts as long as you want it to. The game of petanque is simple, relaxing, lots of fun and a perfect way to make new friends. Last but not least, petanque can be (and usually is) played while enjoying a cool drink (the French will go for wine or pastis) and some tasty outdoor snacks...

Members of the UK's nude petanque team, who have signed a sponsorship deal with
Persil washing powder, throw their boules, May 29, 2002. The team will sport branded hats,
socks and sweatbands at two tournaments in The Netherlands later this year.


Pentanque America

Page Created: June 3, 2002
Last Updated: June 3, 2002