History of Pétanque

Several types of lawn bowling are popular in various regions of France. One of them, known as Jeu Provençale ("Game of Provence"), allows a bowler to take two steps before rolling the ball.

Jules LeNoir, a popular bowler in the little Provençal village of La Ciotat, suffered an accident in 1910 that confined him to a wheelchair. To allow him to play, his friends came up with a new rule that the bowler had to keep both feet in a circle about 2 feet in diameter and could not take a step before delivering the ball.

The new game was called pieds tanques, or "feet together." As it spread, that became corrupted to pétanque.

Pétanque became popular very rapidly, and French emigrants brought it to other countries, including the United States and Canada. According to the governing body, the International Federation of Pétanque and Jeu Provençal (FIPJP), it has more players than any other sport in the lawn bowling group.

Petanque is now played by about 17 million people in France, as well as  in England, Canada, USA and South East Asia.