We research the products we recommend. If you buy through our links, we may receive a commission. As an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Disclaimer

Differences between Bocce and Pétanque

Table of Contents

Differences Between Bocce and Pétanque

Discover the unique differences between Bocce and Pétanque, two beloved lawn games with rich histories and distinct gameplay strategies. Each game has its charm and complexity, making them favorites in different parts of the world.

Origins and History

Bocce’s Italian Roots

Bocce’s origins trace back to ancient Roman times, evolving into a popular pastime in Italy. This game of precision and skill was nurtured through Italian culture and has become a staple in recreational sports globally.

Pétanque’s French Connection

Contrastingly, Pétanque originated in early 20th century France. It started as a variation of ‘jeu provençal’, adapting to accommodate players who preferred a stationary stance during play, thereby creating a new, inclusive game.

Equipment and Court Specifications

Bocce Balls: Material, Size, and Weight

Bocce balls, traditionally made from resin or wood, are approximately 107 mm in diameter, weighing around 920 grams. The heft and size of Bocce balls make them suitable for the strategic rolling and tossing integral to the game.

Pétanque Balls: Composition and Characteristics

In contrast, Pétanque balls, or boules, are made of metal and are smaller, with a diameter of 74 to 80 mm, and heavier, weighing between 650 to 800 grams. This design caters to Pétanque’s focus on precision throwing and strategic placement.

Bocce Court Design and Rules

Court Construction and Sideboards

Bocce courts are known for their raised sides and end boards, which can influence gameplay. The sideboards offer players an opportunity to use bank shots for strategic advantage, adding an extra dimension to Bocce.

Pétanque Playing Surfaces

French Courtyards and Beyond

Traditional Pétanque is often played in French courtyards, on surfaces like dirt or gravel. These terrains add unpredictability to the boules’ roll, making terrain adaptation a key skill in Pétanque.

Playing Techniques and Strategy

Throwing Techniques in Bocce

Bocce players utilize underhand throws, aiming to place their balls close to the small target ball, or pallino. The game involves a combination of offensive and defensive strategies, such as knocking opponents’ balls away from the pallino.

Pétanque’s Precision Toss and ‘Pied Tanqué’

Pétanque is distinguished by its unique throwing technique, where players must keep their feet together (‘pied tanqué’) in a fixed circle while throwing. This rule requires players to stand stationary, adding a layer of challenge to their precision and skill. The goal is to toss the metal boules underhand, aiming to land them near the cochonnet, or target ball. This technique emphasizes control and accuracy, making strategic placement crucial in Pétanque gameplay.

Scoring and Gameplay Dynamics

Scoring in Bocce

In Bocce, scoring is based on the proximity of the balls to the pallino after all balls have been played. The game emphasizes strategic placement and the ability to adapt to changing situations on the court.

Pétanque Scoring Nuances

Pétanque’s scoring, while similar, often involves more precision due to the smaller playing area and the weight of the metal boules. This leads to a different tactical approach compared to Bocce.


From the sun-drenched piazzas of Italy to the quaint courtyards of France, Bocce and Pétanque offer unique experiences filled with strategy, skill, and social enjoyment. Understanding the differences between these two games enhances the appreciation for their rich cultural backgrounds and the joys they bring to players around the world.


Share This:

Join our Newsletter