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Amelia Islander

5th Annual Petanque American Open

Nov 07, 2012 04:00PM
It’s hard to believe that this coming Saturday and Sunday is the 5th year of the Petanque America Open tournament, and so many people still don’t know a lot about the game. Petanque, pronounced "pay-tonk", one of Europe's most popular outdoor games, is a cousin of both horseshoes and of the Italian bowling game called bocce. The game originated in the South of France in the early 1900's.

The aim is to toss, or roll, a number of hollow steel balls called boules, as close as possible to a small wooden target ball, called a but or cochonnet, which is French for "piglet". Players take turns and the team that ends up nearest to the target ball when all balls are played wins. Unlike horseshoes, where the aim stake is fixed, petanque’s target ball may be hit at any time, which can completely upset the score at the last second. And whereas official bocce rules call for a smooth, prepared court with markers and sideboards, petanque can be played on most outdoor surfaces, without any setup.

No special skill is required, adults can play with children, and the equipment is inexpensive. The game of petanque is simple, relaxing, lots of fun, and a perfect way to make new friends. The tournament is held in downtown Fernandina near the marina. There will be a training session on Friday. For more information about the tournament or to purchase your own petanque boules, visit