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Petanque Balls: The Ultimate Buying Guide

Petanque Balls: The Ultimate Buying Guide

A true national sport in France and more particularly in the South, petanque is becoming more and more popular year after year across the globe. Its popularity is such that nearly 5.5 million pétanque balls are produced in the world each year. And the vast majority of these are made in France.

If you want to discover the world of pétanque but don’t know where to start, we’ve put together this handy guide so you’ll know exactly which petanque balls to buy. Hopefully, in time, you’ll become a great bowler!

What Budget for a Set of Petanque Balls?

The price of a petanque boules kit will vary greatly depending on the brand, the number, and the type of boules you wish to buy. It can range from about 20 euros to several tens of thousands of euros! Without going that far, a first set of petanque boules should cost you on average between $30 and $50 (or euro).

If you are interested in competition, a petanque balls kit costs around $100 for entry-level models and can go up to more than $300 for balls with patented technologies (such as MS Pétanque’s “anti-rebound” or Obut’s “amortization” technology).

If you’re looking to invest in a set of bocce balls for kids, you have several options. Plastic boules are the cheapest and most suitable for young children. You can find kits of 8 plastic bocce balls for less than $10 in France.

For a feeling closer to real petanque, wooden boules are a safer alternative to steel boules. A set of three wooden boules costs about 20 dollars on average. Finally, stainless steel junior boules are perfect replicas of adult boules, smaller and lighter. You can get a set of three stainless steel boules for about thirty dollars.

How Many Petanque Balls to Buy?

The number of petanque balls to buy will depend on your playing style. If you play mainly alone or with other experienced players, it is recommended to invest in a triplette (set of three boules) that will allow you to play with three players (using two boules), two players, and solo (using three boules).

If, on the other hand, you want to play with your family or friends who don’t have petanque balls, we recommend that you start by purchasing a kit of 8 petanque balls. You will be able to play with up to 4 players at the same time.

Finally, if you have the budget and want to be able to play a triplette (6 players, 3 against 3), you will need to have 12 petanque balls.

Where to Buy Petanque Balls?

Wherever you are, you can be sure that petanque balls are within your reach. If you prefer to test the boules (in France) before buying them, you can go to the big sports French stores (Decathlon, Intersport, Go Sport) or to the manufacturers’ stores to find your happiness.

If you prefer to buy from the comfort of your home, you can visit the official websites of the manufacturers (Obut, La Boule Bleue…), those of the specialized retailers (Pétanque Shop, Pétanque Stock…) or those of the e-commerce giants (Amazon, Ebay, Fnac, CDiscount) You can have your order delivered anywhere in France, Europe, and the United States.

What are the Main Brands of Petanque Balls?

Obut boule Pétanque
Obut boule de Pétanque @French Iceberg

Obut Petanque Balls

Created in 1955 in Saint-Bonnet-le-Château, Obut, also known as La Boule Obut, is the leading manufacturer of petanque boules in the world, holding 80% of the world market. Obut boules have been appreciated by both professional players and boules enthusiasts for over 60 years. Whatever your level, you can buy these boules with your eyes closed, as long as they fit in your budget. If you have the budget, you can opt for the premium ATX model from Obut.

Obut ATR
Obut ATR @French Iceberg

La Boule Bleue Petanque Balls

Originating from the land of petanque, La Boule Bleue is a family business based in Marseille since 1904. Authentic and original, the brand is based on a know-how that has been passed on for 4 generations within the Rofritsch family. Recognizable by their simple design and their bluish tone, these petanque balls will delight competition enthusiasts as well as Sunday players.

MS Pétanque balls

Founded in France in 1992, MS Pétanque was originally known as VMS. The brand is known for its technological contribution to the world of petanque and for the unique design of its boules. Thanks to an alloy of carbon and steel, MS Pétanque boules provide very high performance and are therefore aimed at experienced competitors.

Decathlon Petanque Balls (Geologic)

Through its Geologic brand, Decathlon has been producing and marketing entry-level petanque boules for many years now. Among the products offered by the brand, we find leisure boules kits (plastic and stainless steel), and accessories but also competition boules at low prices. If you don’t know if petanque is for you, Geologic boules are a good way to start playing without breaking the bank.

How to Choose your Petanque Balls According to your Practice?

What Type of Balls to Choose for a Shooter?

The shooter is the one who will have to prevent the opposing team from scoring points by moving their balls as far away from the jack as possible. To do this, here are the balls he will generally use.

Size: The shooter will prefer wide balls (74 – 78 mm) offering a larger surface to hit the opposing balls.

Hardness: Soft balls are recommended for shooters to take advantage of a lower bounce after a hit.

Weight: The shooter uses fairly light balls (670 – 710 g) to limit fatigue while having maximum ease.

Marking: The shooter wants to have a ball that is as slick as possible in order to have better accuracy and a better glide on the court.

What Type of Balls to Choose for a Pointer?

The pointer is the one who will be in charge of scoring the team’s points by placing his balls as close as possible to the jack. To do this, he will need very specific balls.

Size: The pointer will go for smaller diameter balls (71-74 mm) which will be more difficult to clear for the shooter.

Hardness: The hard balls are ideal for pointers in order to benefit from a greater extension and a better grip on the ground (anti-bounce technology is highly appreciated).

Weight: The pointer uses relatively heavy balls (700 – 740 g) for optimal control.

Marking: The pointer is always oriented towards a stripped ball to have a better grip and a shorter glide, whatever the court.

How to Choose the Size of your Petanque Ball?

Generally speaking, the diameter of a petanque ball is chosen according to two criteria: its role (as we have seen previously) and the size of its hand.

The most common method of finding your ideal ball diameter is to measure the distance between the thumb and middle finger of your hand. Of course, there is no universal rule. Your ideal ball size will depend on your personal preferences. However, if you don’t know where to start, here is a chart to give you an idea.

Gap between thumb and middle finger (in cm)Diameter of the pétanque ball (in mm)

The Essential Accessories for a Good Game of Petanque

While a simple set of boules is all you need to play a game of petanque, there are many accessories that are sure to make your experience even more memorable and enjoyable.

Here are 6 accessories that you must have if you want to become an accomplished petanque player.

Measuring the distance between the jack and petanque ball
Measuring the distance between the jack and petanque ball @French Iceberg
  • The magnetic ball pick-up: An avid petanque player will bend down dozens and dozens of times per game to pick up his balls. But thanks to the magnetic ball picker, no need to bend down anymore. No more backache!
  • The magnetized jack: The cork or plastic jacks do not allow you to enjoy the benefits of the magnetic ball collector. By investing in a magnetized jack, you will never have to bend down again during a game of petanque. Moreover, the metal insert makes the jack even more resistant to shocks.
  • The petanque bag: Rather than carrying your petanque balls in a bulky briefcase or a classic case, why not invest in a petanque bag (soft or hard) in order to take your favorite boules everywhere and without clutter.
  • The meter and the compass: Every good player must have a tool to measure the distance between the balls and the jack. The best combo is to have both a tape measure and a compass to be able to judge all situations.
  • The petanque circle: When the weather is bad, it can be difficult to maintain a proper throwing circle. To avoid any problems, there is nothing better than an approved petanque circle that conforms to the official FIPJP rules (International Federation of Petanque and Provençal Games).
  • The duster: In order to preserve your boules, it is imperative to remove the dust, sand, or moisture that can get on them. It is therefore important to have a cloth, scarf, or any other equivalent to clean your petanque balls between games.

The ABC’s of Petanque Ball Maintenance

How to Clean Petanque Balls?

To preserve your balls and avoid rust, it is important to adopt good practices to keep them in perfect condition as long as possible. Here are three good habits to adopt as soon as possible:

  • Clean your boules after each game of petanque with a cloth, taking care to remove all traces of dust, sand, or humidity.
  • Wash your balls from time to time with warm water and Marseille soap. Be sure to dry them well afterward to avoid any risk of rust.
  • Store your balls in a dry place (case, bag), not subject to frequent temperature changes. The trunk of the car is therefore to be avoided!

How to Derust Petanque Balls?

Like all metal objects, petanque balls will undergo oxidation in contact with air and humidity, which will eventually weaken them. Add to this the numerous shocks and friction to which they are constantly subjected, and this rust can quickly increase and greatly reduce the performance of your boules.

But before you invest in a new set, there are solutions to rust your petanque balls. Indeed, rust has a main enemy: acidity. Most products with a high acid content will remove rust from your favorite boules. Among the most effective are white vinegar, baking soda, and Coca-Cola.

Once you have one of these, simply soak your balls in a tub of acid solution for a few hours before rinsing them with clean water and drying them with a cloth. They should be as good as new!

We hope that with this article, you are now able to choose the most suitable petanque balls for your needs. If you want to learn more about the different games of boules, check out our article on the difference between petanque and bocce.

Finally, if you are a physical activity enthusiast, check out our range of articles on sports in France.

Translated into English by Sacha