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Pétanque: sport & passion in Provence

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

Photo de Ulrike Brusch

During your stay in Provence with us, you will be accommodated in a private bungalow next to our Mas. During your immersion, you will have 3 hours of lessons per day. We will share two meals together a day and we will do two excursions together in the week. If you wish, you will be welcome to share moments of life with us. You can also enjoy the facilities of the Mas such as the swimming pool, the tennis court or the pétanque court.

Pétanque, have you heard about it? Let me introduce this right away.

What is pétanque?

Pétanque is a Provençal game. It is a very popular sport in Provence but also everywhere in France. Eleventh sport in France, it can be practiced on a professional or amateur basis. At home, we practice it with family or friends during barbecues, birthdays, etc. We can say: “I am going to play pétanque” or “I am going to play boules”.

How was pétanque born?

For centuries balls have been made of different materials; steel, clay, etc. The game of bowls will experience its golden age at the time of the Renaissance, as will the Jeu de Paume. It was at the beginning of the 20th century in La Ciotat (a small village in Provence) that pétanque was born. Jules Hugues, known as "Le Noir", can no longer practice his favorite sport because of his rheumatism. He then begins to lace his balls, "tanked feet" to get closer to the jack (=cochonnet).

Etymologically, "Ped" means "foot" and "tanca" means "planted". It literally means “still feet”

Photo de

How does it play?

Pétanque can be played alone or as a team. The objective of the game is to throw your pétanque ball as close as possible to the jack.

Where can we play pétanque?

Officially, pétanque is played on a bowling alley. You can also play on flat and sandy ground, clay or even gravel. During competitions, the pétanque court has precise dimensions. Almost all Provençal villages have their pétanque ground.

Pétanque in a few figures

  • More than 300,000 licensees in France

  • 17% of licensees are women

  • More than half of the licensees are seniors

  • More than 600,000 licensees worldwide

  • More than 100 countries know pétanque and practice it

  • 35,000 licensees live in Provence, i.e. more than 10% of the number of licensees

Photo de Mickis Fotowelt

A real sport?

Every year since 1962 the largest international pétanque competition takes place in Marseille. Marseille is truly the cradle of pétanque. In 2019, 150,000 spectators came. They came to support more than 15,000 players. Of course pétanque is part of the traditions of certain regions. But it has also become a real sporting practice giving rise to international championships.

Are there variations of pétanque?

It has several variants of pétanque such as the “longue” (the ground is larger and the throwing more acrobatic), the Boules Bretonnes or the Boule Lyonnaise. Each region of France has its boules game. Pétanque remains the best known, the most practiced and the most appreciated.

Photo de Bas Slabbers

If you come to my place for an immersion stay in Provence, I will make you discover the different aspects of Provence: the landscapes and the scents, but also the culture, the gastronomy... while helping you to improve your French. See you soon in Provence!

Virginie In Provence


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