Petanque, pronounced “pay-tahnk”, one of Europe’s most popular outdoor games, is a distant relative of horseshoes, and a first cousin of the Italian ‘bocce’. The game originated in Provence in the early 1900’s.

The aim is to toss, or roll a number of hollow steel balls (“boules”) as close as possible to a small wooden target ball, called “but” or “cochonnet” (meaning “piglet” in French). Players take turns and the team that ends up nearest to the target ball when all balls are played, wins.

Unlike horseshoes, where the aim stake is fixed, petanques’ target 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 smooth, prepared court with markers and sideboards, petanque can be played on most outdoor surfaces, without any setup.

No special skill is required, adults can play with children, and the equipment is inexpensive. 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.

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