How to Play Petanque

If you are new to the game, here are the basic rules (more information available at Petanque England)

Games can be played as either:

  • Singles: Two individual players, each with 3 boules;
  • or Doubles: Two teams of two players, with 3 boules per player;
  • or Triples: Two teams of three players, with 2 boules per player

Boules are supplied in sets of three, all with identical markings called striations. These help to identify each player’s boules during a game.


  1. The two teams toss a coin to decide who starts first.
  2. A player from the starting team draws a circle on the ground and then, standing with both feet in the circle, throws the target jack out to a distance of 6 to 10 meters.
  3. The starting team’s player then throws their first boule, trying to get it close to the jack.
  4. Next, a player from the second team stands in the circle and tries to get their boule closer to the jack than the opposing team. They can do this simply throwing their boule so it ends up closer; or by knocking into the opposing team’s boule and moving it away.
  5. If that team succeeds in getting their boule closer than all of its opponents boules, then the opposing team now has to attempt to throw a boule closer.
  6. The team which does not have the closest boule to the jack after each throw, keeps throwing their boules until either they get closest, or they run out of boules to throw, at which point it is the other team’s turn to play.
  7. When all boules from both teams have been thrown, that is the conclusion of an ‘end’. Points are awarded for each boule that is closer to the jack than the other team’s closest boule, and these points are are added to the running score. That is, if team A  has two of its boules closer to the jack than opposing team’s closest boule, then team A gets two points added to their score and is said to have ‘won the end’.
  8. The team who won the previous end, starts the next one by drawing a circle around the current position of the jack and using that as the starting position.
  9. Play continues in this way until one team reaches 13 points, at which point they have won the game. There is no limit on the number of ends that can be played in a game.

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