Bastille Day: How to play petanque

petanque tournament french bastille day cercle rouge Catch a real petanque tournament this weekend at Cercle Rouge on West Broadway.
Credit: Provided

If drinking bordeaux while eating a croque monsieur and wearing a beret isn’t French enough for you, then grab some friends for a round of petanque.

The current form of petanque, best described as French bocce, originated in Provence in 1907. (The main difference is that the balls in petanque are tossed, whereas bocce is a bowling motion.)The game is played by an estimated 17 people in France, and there’s a world championship tournament held every two years.

Here are the rules:

Teams: can be one-on-one, two-on-two, or three-on-three.

Start: A coin is flipped to see who goes first; the winner gets to draw the circle from which all balls must be thrown that round. The circle is between 14 and 20 inches in diameter.

Field:There is no limit to the size of the court, but the accepted minimum is 4 feet by 12 feet. A ball is out of play if it hits a boundary.

Play: Each player gets three hollow metal balls (boules). The first player throws out the cochonnet (“piglet” in French, also commonly called a jack, it’s a small wooden ball), and then the first boule, which are tossed underhand, like a softball pitch. Then the opposing team throws a boule.

Position: The balls must be thrown with both feet on the ground — that’s the meaning of petanque.

Objective: Get the boule closest to the smaller wooden ball. Turns are alternated, with the team farthest from the cochonnet throwing until they get closer.

Finish: The round ends when one team runs out of boules, or the cochonnet is knocked out of play, in which case the winning team is the one with more boules closer to the cochonnet.

Follow Eva Kis on Twitter @thisiskis or email eva.kis@metro.us.

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