Pétanque  is a form of boules where the goal is, while standing inside a starting circle with both feet on the ground, to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (literally “piglet”) or jack. It is also sometimes called a bouchon (literally “cork”) or le petit (“the small one”). The game is normally played on hard dirt or gravel, but can also be played on grass, sand or other surfaces. Similar games are bocce and bowls.

The current form of the game originated in 1907 in La Ciotat, in Provence, in southern France. The English and French name pétanque comes from la petanca  in the Provençal dialect of the Occitanlanguage, deriving from the expression pès tancats [?p? ta??ka], meaning “feet together” or more exactly “feet anchored”.

Pétanque players on the beach at Nice, France.

The casual form of the game of pétanque is played by about 17 million people in France, mostly during their summer vacations. It is also widely played in neighboring Spain. There are about 375,000 players licensed with the Fédération Française de Pétanque et Jeu Provençal (FFPJP), some 3,000 in England, and 1,000 in Lafayette, LouisianaUnited States. Another 20,000 or so play in QuebecCanada. Additionally, pétanque clubs have arisen in cities throughout the United States in recent years. Petanque is also played in Southeast Asia due to the French presence in the area during the last centuries:Laos, north ThailandVietnam and Cambodia.

Reference: Wikipedia Pentaque