Playing Petanque (Boule)

You could try the game at the Fareham Pétanque Club, North-West Fareham Community Centre, Henry Cort Drive, Fareham PO15 6PH on the western edge of Fareham in Southern Hampshire, England. (was Limesdowne Petanque Club)

Basic Introduction (quick guide on how you play)

Easy to pick up. Easy to play, and is enjoyable even if you are a new player playing with (relative) experts. Suitable for all ages (if you can't bend down to pick up the Boule - just put a magnet on a piece of string).

  • · To get as many of your Boules as you can closer to the target Jack than the opposition Boules. Jack is the proper name, though the Jack is also called the 'Cochonnet' or 'Coche' or 'But'.
  • · Games can be singles (one against one) or doubles or triples. In triples players have 2 Boules each, in singles and doubles it's 3 Boules each.
  • · Basically an 'End' finishes when all Boule have been thrown. You score one point for each Boule nearer to the Coche than the opposition best Boule. So the maximum score in one end in a doubles or triples is 6 points - but usually only one or two points get scored.
  • · The first side to reach 13 wins the game.


  • · 'Competition' Boule are between 70.5 and 80 mm in diameter and weigh between 650 and 800 gm. They are stamped with a maker's name and unique code number. You need to use these in official events, leagues etc.
  • · There are also 'Leisure' Boule (sometimes called 'Dog' Boules), which are made to less exacting standards. New players can get the hang of the game using these (we have a few sets for trial use), but should plan to buy some Competition-grade Boule once they have determined what diameter and weight suits them best. Club members can advise.
  • · Boule come in a variety of grooved patterns - hopefully players in a game will have easily distinguishable Boule, but sometimes care is needed.
  • ¨ Toss a coin to decide who starts
  • ¨ The first person to play draws a circle on the ground, of about 1 and a half feet in diameter (officially 35 to 50 centimetres). He or she then tosses the Coche a distance of minumum six to maximum ten metres (6-1/2 to 11 yards)
  • - officially in any direction, but we usually play across and back across the terrain when there are a number of games being played. The coche has to finish up at least a metre from the wood boundaries or posts of the terrain (on the smaller Limesdowne rear terrain we play to half-a-metre).
  • ¨ If the Coche is thrown too short, long or out, the throwing side have 2 more chances to get it right (then the opposition get the Coche).
  • ¨ Then he or she stands with both feet inside the circle and throws the first Boule, trying to get it as near as possible to the Coche.
  • ¨ It is usual to lob the Boule, in a 'back-handed' palm-down motion (this imparts back-spin and makes it more controllable).
  • A player from the other side then stands in the circle and throws. He or she can try to get nearer to the Coche - or can try to knock away the opposition Boule. Trying to get near the Coche is called 'Pointing', trying to hit away a Boule is quite fair and is called 'Shooting'
  • The Boule left nearest the Coche leads (is 'on'). If it isn't clear which is closest, a tape measure may sometimes need to be used.
  • The next player is anyone from the side not leading (ie not closest to the coche) - so there is no fixed sequence or fixed turns to go. He or she can chose to Point or Shoot, as they wish - this is where tactics come in.
  • Players from the side not leading then continue to play till they get nearer the coche than the opposition best Boule. If they don't, when they run out of Boule the other side then plays all their remaining Boule.
  • If the Coche gets moved you have to look to see who is now leading.
  • Boule that hit the boundaries of the terrain are deemed 'Out'.
  • Once the Coche is thrown no obstacles (stones, leaves, etc) can be moved

  • When all Boule have been thrown, the teams agree which side has won the end (is nearest) and how many points they have scored. Again it may sometimes be necessary to measure.
  • If a side reaches 13 points, the Game is over … and everyone shakes hands.
  • If neither has reached 13, the side winning that End starts a new End, drawing a circle and throwing the Coche.
  • Nb - an End finishes early if the Coche gets pushed 'Out' (special rules apply about scoring for this end).
Pointers to the Full Rules

The guide to the left is just a broad (and unofficial) outline.

Detail details on playing are in the official rules

For example these can be found at the British Petanque Federation website (which also has lots of useful pointers) -- see below


there is a US Petanque Association, which also has the rules up. URL:


General Information on the Game


SCPA's (excellent) site - (was

Which is part of the English Pétanque Association

go to EPA's site -

Which is federated to the British Pétanque Federation

go to BPF's site -

Another source of info is
..actually that site is run by Norwegians - there's quite a following of the game in Scandinavia. (they cheat a bit, by playing indoors in the warm .. we play year-round here out of doors......)

Useful Guides .
is the site of Pen-y-Coed Petanque (a supplier of boules).
(I think they now have their uptodate help-sheets up on it, which cover things like boule (naturally), how to build a terrain, etc. These are useful and helpful )



Comments, queries and messages to:
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