Yard Games: Bocce Vs. Petanque. Which One Do You Prefer?

bocce vs petanque

During our Memorial Day bar-be-que, some of the guests gathered in a corner of the yard for a game of bocce. I love this game. Actually, I really know very little about this game, but I think the equipment is probably the most beautiful of any sport, and therefore I’m a big fan.

I was first introduced to the game under the name petanque by my brother-in-law Mark Sabey. He walked into the yard with a worn bucket full of heavy, etched, metal spheres and I quickly made a mental note that a petanque set needed to go on my wishlist asap.


After the initial introduction, I started seeing bocce sets all over the place and eventually figured out they were the same thing. Or sort of the same thing. From what I understand, bocce is the Italian name for the game, and petanque is the French name. Bocce balls are traditionally red and green and much bigger than the petanque balls, which are metallic silver. (If there are other big differences and I’m making a big sport faux-pas here, my apologies.)

This is a perfect yard game. Great for all ages, and really easy to involve the kids. You kind of meander around the yard as you play which is lovely. You can find sets pretty much anywhere — here’s a good-looking bocce set, and a handsome petanque set.

What I really want is an aged, metal petanque set like the one that captured my heart initially. I guess that means we need to get playing!

P.S. — The most charming video of petanque in action in Normandy, France.

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Photo source: Petanque player is from Someday Somewhere.

30 thoughts on “Yard Games: Bocce Vs. Petanque. Which One Do You Prefer?”

  1. I’ve heard of bocce ball, and I’ve seen them, but never quite really understood how it was played. My brother and I did enjoy the occasional game of croquet when we were little. There’s something so relaxing about those old yard games!

  2. It’s a great game. I’m all about competition…and a few simple balls and actually any size yard is all you need. Oh and people to play. Lots of fun!

  3. Bocce is the best, it’s a huge italian thing, so we grew up playing it after every meal with my grandpa, but beware they leave an enormous goose egg when hurled at someone’s head. My nephew threw one at my son at a b-day party, and I swear he grew a 2nd head. IT is a great FHE game, we do it all the time!

  4. I love this game. It’s awesome. You might want to try Kubb – It’s a swedish game as well. It’s a lot of fun. Great sites in America so you can save some money.

  5. My favorite thing to do in Italy is watch the old men play bocce and take pictures. We brought our first back with us from there as children. It is still a family favorite.

  6. I second the comments about the italian old man who play it in the piazzi of Italy. A group of distinguished old men, in three piece suits, the sun setting behind them as the toss the bocce balls. Beautiful!

  7. I learned how to play this game from my brother-in-law and it really is so much fun! We really enjoy playing it at family gatherings. It’s a great game!

  8. Petanque is the Franco-Provenzale version.
    Other 2 are the classic “Raffa” and another version named “Volo”.
    In Italy about 4-5 millions (at the 2nd place after soccer) of people play bocce.
    But many others think that is a stupid game, to me is very cool, I restart to play it (Raffa version)after 14 years and I like it more than before.
    All apologies for my english, I hope you understand me.
    For any question, mail me.
    Bye all.

  9. I had a great time summer playing bocce with lighted glo balls. We played in the dark at our campground. These aren't the italian balls mentioned in a previous comment, but they are great fun. You can get them and the really nice italian balls at http://www.playaboule.com

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