Many visitors to France or Spain will have seen pétanque being played, and some may have had a go themselves. But what is it all about?

Pétanque is an international sport played by 19m people in France, and growing fast in the UK. Originating in the South of France in the early 20th century, the sport is possibly unique in having been designed to accommodate the needs of one of its less-abled players. It is the most common form of French Boules, and the key is that both feet are firmly on the ground when the ball is thrown.

Similar in principle to English lawn bowls, but less stuffy, it is played on a pitch ‘terrain’ of grit or sand. Metal boules are thrown towards a small wooden jack ‘coche’. Our petanque section have a large terrain, with surfaces of varied topping, and lights for evening play. Petanque is played communally, and the members meet on Monday afternoons, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, and Friday evenings.

The section plays all throughout the year, with opportunities for purely social sport and fun events as well as more competitive league play, open competitions (usually on Sundays), and Regional/National events. It is suitable for all ages and all levels of fitness, and there is no dress code except that sensible flat shoes are a good idea.

The Petanque England’s ‘come and try’ rules provide for three free taster sessions for all new players before they need to decide whether to join. The section’s EPA-qualified coaches will provide all necessary tuition, and boules and any other equipment are available as necessary.

So, it is a friendly and sociable sport, accessible to all ages and levels of fitness, played outdoors throughout the year, which enables levels of involvement from purely social, to highly competitive. Plus you get three free goes – just come along!

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