What on earth is pétanque ...?
Pétanque, pronounced "pay-tonk", one of Europe's most popular outdoor games, is a cousin of both horseshoes and of the Italian bowling game called 'bocce'. The game originated in the South of France 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" (French for "piglet"). 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, the target ball can be hit (and thus moved) at any time, which can totally upset the score at the last second.
And whereas official 'bocce' rules call for a smooth, prepared court with markers and sideboards, pétanque can be played on many outdoor surfaces, without any setup.
No special skill is required, adults can play with children, and the equipment is inexpensive. The game of pétanque is simple, relaxing, lots of fun, and a perfect way to make new friends. Last but not least, pétanque can be - and usually is - played while enjoying a cool drink.
No wonder this extremely pleasant game is rapidly gaining popularity worldwide!