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Thursday, February 16, 2012

What is Petanque?

Petanque is a French game which originated in 1907 in La Ciotat, in Provence, in southern France. The term has the meaning of ‘feet together’ or keeping your ‘feet anchored’. Players are required to inside a starting circle with both feet on the ground, and throw a hollow metal ball as near as possible to a small wooden ball that has the name of a cochonnet.

Sometimes the cochonnet goes by other names, including a bouchon, le petit or a jack. Petanque is similar to the game of bowls and can be played on hard and gravel like surfaces, including sand and grass. Over the years the sport has changed rules and developed, which means it has a historical relevance to France and French sporting culture.

Petanque was established into the sport it is today in 1907 in La Ciotat, near Marseilles in France, by a player called Jules Lenoir. He had rheumatism which prevented from running before he threw a ball. He adapted the game to allow for his abilities and reduced the length of the pitch by almost half, and he no longer needed to run to throw the ball, but he could stand still.

Petanque is an extremely popular game in France, and is played by around 17 million people. The sport used to be considered elitist, but not it is associated with summer holidays. Although Petanque is a French sport, it is also played around the world, depending on the level of French influence. Many colonies that used to be under French rule, play the sport because of this, including areas of South East Asia such as Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. The sport is very popular in Europe and Canada, and growing interest in occurring in other areas of North America. The sport as it is played in England is called lawn bowls.


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