Pétanque. A fun game with a weird name.

Pronounced “Paytonk”, this sport finds its origin in the early 1900’s in the south of France. Pétanque means “feet together” (“pieds tanqués”), as players throw bowls (“boules”) with their two feet inside a small circle and try to get as close as possible to a little wooden jack (“bouchon”/“cochonnet”) to score points. It can be played individually or more frequently in teams of two or three.

Pétanque arrived in St Kilda in 1992, when the “St Kilda Pétanque Club” was formed and combined with the St Kilda Bowling Club and the Emerald Hill Cricket Club to form the St Kilda Sports Club. A “piste” was constructed on a disused bowling green. There are a number of clubs in Australia and in Victoria. All in all 2500+ players down under. Pétanque is played in a very social spirit but can also be very competitive.

The St Kilda Pétanque Club embraces both aspects of the game. Indeed, we have a social gathering every Friday night starting at 5pm where we play, have a drink and share a barbecue all together, mixing all levels of players and often welcoming visitors curious to discover what pétanque is all about.

Whether you play or not, if you want to try pétanque and/or organise an event around pétanque, feel free to join us or contact us. You can find us on Facebook or Club President Wim Degger on 03 9534 5229 or via email


Pétanque is one of the family of games that involves throwing or rolling a ball towards some point. The family includes the Italian Bocce, the English/Scottish Lawn Bowls, Irish Road-Bowls, skittles, and American Ten Pin Bowling. This family evolved from some of the earliest games played. Pétanque involves throwing a heavy metal “boule” on a “piste” (a rough gravel surface) towards a small wooden ball, over distances of 6 to 12 metres.

Prior to 1910, the version of the game played in France was Jeu Provencale, where the player is permitted to take two steps before the boule is played. In 1910 Jules Lenoir, a very well-known Jeu Provencale player suffered severe injuries in an accident, leaving him permanently in a wheel chair. To enable him to continue to enjoy his favorite sport, some of Jules’ friends modified some of the rules, introducing the concept of playing the boule from a fixed point (now a circle scribed on the gravel, in which both feet must be firmly planted). This new game was given the name of “ pieds tanqués”. As the popularity of the new game increased, it evolved into what is now “pétanque”. It is played throughout the world, but is strongest in France and in those countries where the French have had influence. Worldwide, the number of regular players is in the millions. There are a number of clubs in Victoria, with numbers growing. Some clubs are associated with wineries, reflecting common additional interests of pétanque players. The game is characterised by a casual atmosphere, is very inclusive and whole families often play together.