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General Background:

A history of Pétanque in 10½ lines

In spite of some suggestions that Sir Francis Drake was really playing "boules", not bowls, at Plymouth as he awaited the Armada, most people agree that pétanque as we know it originated in 1910 at La Ciotat, near Marseilles in southern France.  It is one of a family of older games played with "boules", formerly made sometimes of wood, or even stone, but now usually (always in pétanque) of steel, in which the object is for your team to finish up with as many as possible of your boules closer to the jack ("cochonnet") than the closest one of your opponents (see "How to play petanque").  Pétanque (derived literally from pieds tanqué - "anchored feet" - because the player must have both feet on the ground throughout each shot) is the least energetic variant of this family, which helpfully minimizes the dependence on athletic prowess and physical strength, making it more universally accessible than most outdoor sports.  The controlling international federation, the FIPJP, was established in 1958, and there are now over 600,000 registered players in 46 countries.

Where it all began...

ciotat.jpg (187088 bytes)

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