French Pétanque vs Bocce Ball: Unveiling the Contrasts - Game On! 🎯

As an avid bocce ball player with over 20 years of experience, I often get asked about the differences between bocce ball and French pétanque, also known as boule. While both games share similarities, there are some key differences that set them apart. If you're interested in a more detailed comparison, you can check out our article on comparing and contrasting bocce ball and pétanque.

Court and Surface

One of the most noticeable differences between the two games is the playing surface. Bocce ball is typically played on a long, rectangular court with a hard, flat surface, such as crushed stone or compacted soil. The court is surrounded by wooden boards to keep the balls within the playing area. In contrast, pétanque can be played on a variety of surfaces, including grass, gravel, or sand, and doesn't require a specific court or boundaries.


Both games use a set of balls and a smaller target ball. However, the balls used in bocce are larger and made of a hard plastic or wood, while pétanque balls are smaller, made of metal, and have a hollow center. The target ball in bocce is called a "pallino," which you can learn more about in our article on what the white ball is called in bocce ball. In pétanque, it's called a "cochonnet" or "jack."

Throwing Technique

In bocce, players roll the ball underhand, trying to get as close as possible to the pallino. The ball can be rolled directly or bounced off the sideboards. In pétanque, players throw the ball with an underhand motion, but the ball must be tossed in the air, landing closer to the cochonnet than the opponent's balls. Pétanque players must also throw the ball with both feet on the ground and within a small circle, while bocce players can move freely within their designated area.


Scoring in both games is based on the proximity of the balls to the target ball. In bocce, only the team with the closest ball to the pallino scores points, with one point awarded for each ball closer than the opponent's nearest ball. You can find more details about scoring in our article on understanding crucial game rules in bocce ball. In pétanque, the team with the closest ball to the cochonnet also scores points, but the number of points is equal to the number of balls closer than the opponent's closest ball.

Team Size

Bocce can be played with two to four players per team, while pétanque is typically played with two or three players per team. In both games, each player has a specific number of balls to throw, depending on the team size.

In conclusion, while bocce ball and French pétanque share some similarities, the differences in court and surface, equipment, throwing technique, scoring, and team size make each game unique. If you're interested in trying both games, I encourage you to do so, as they each offer a fun and engaging experience that requires strategy and precision. If you're a beginner, you might find our comprehensive guide to getting started with bocce ball helpful.

Maria Rodriguez
In her free time, Maria enjoys gardening and cooking. She also volunteers at a local animal shelter.

Maria is a retired teacher who has been playing bocce ball for over 20 years. She loves the strategy and precision required to play the game well.