Pétanque is a sport that falls into the category of boules sports, along with raffa, bocce, boule lyonnaise, lawn bowls and crown green bowling which compose the disciplines of Boules Sport are represented in 165 countries via 262 federations and more thousands practitioners. In all of these sports, players or teams play their boules/balls towards a target ball. In pétanque the objective is to score points by having boules closer to the target than your opponent after all boules have been thrown. This is achieved by throwing or rolling boules closer to the small target ball, called a cochonnet, or by hitting the opponents' boules away from the target, while standing inside a circle with both feet on the ground. The game is normally and best played on hard dirt or gravel. It can be played in public areas in parks, or in dedicated facilities called boulodromes.

The current form of the game originated in 1907 or 1910 in La Ciotat, in Provence, France. The French name pétanque comes from petanca in the Provençal dialect of the Occitan language, deriving from the expression pès tancats, meaning 'feet fixed' or 'feet planted' (on the ground). In 1957 in Spa, Belgium, during an International tournament, arranged by the Belgium Pétanque Federation and organized by the local boule club, the foundations of the International Federation of Pétanque were laid down. Following its new start in 1971 the F.I.P.J.P. has continually welcomed new members. The number of member Federations has increased from the original seven to more than one hundred now across the five continents. The number of players is higher than 15 million in the world.
Since 1987, in addition to the classical World Championships, World Championships for ladies and youngsters have been held alternatively every two years, with World Cup gathering the eight best countries, the years without world championship. The world governing body of Pétanque is the FIPJP which is an IOC recognized international federation.