Some Threw, Some Rolled – Boules, Bocce and Pétanque Understood

No matter where we come from, we all have played some kind of game in which we roll or throw a ball towards a target. Boules, Bocce and Pétanque are the most popular of these types of games. But the differences among the three can be really confusing at times. Now, let’s try to understand how these games differ from each other.


petanqueBoules refers to a family of games in which a ball is either thrown or rolled to hit another target ball. The target ball is the smaller one, kind of like a hybrid clubs. The roots of the game can be traced to the Greeks and the Romans, but the simplicity of the game led to its evolution into newer games in different civilizations. Golf news websites covered the evolved versions of the game differ from each other in certain simple aspects such as the throwing technique, presence of run-up, shape and size of the balls, etc. The two most famous versions of the game are Bocce and Pétanque.


The literal meaning of the word translating to “balls” in Italian, Bocce is the version of Boules that involves “rolling” the ball instead of throwing it towards the target ball known as Jack. The ball used for rolling is a solid one and is rolled with an open hand. Since rolling is involved, the ground used for playing Bocce needs to be smooth, making it a bit expensive game as compared to its counterparts like Pétanque. Normally, the Bocce courts are bordered by sideboards.


petanque-courtThis variation of Boules was developed by the French and involves throwing the ball instead of rolling it. But the throw is an underarm throw, that too from the back of the hand. Also, the player who throws the ball stands inside a hand-drawn circle or a plastic loop while throwing it. The ball which is thrown is a hollow one, unlike Bocce. Also, the boundary of the Pétanque court is normally made of strings and not sideboards.

If you have reached this line reading the whole article, you are now already pretty much informed about these games and the ways in which they differ from each other. And the next time you see someone standing in a red hoop, throwing a “Not-so-heavy” ball, you can definitely know its Pétanque and not Bocce. Happy throwing or Rolling or however you like it!

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