In Le Jeu Provençale, players first draw a circle on the ground, then throw a small wooden ball called a bouchon or cochonnet between 12 and 20 metres. Players take turns either pointing or shooting. Pointers try to place their boules as close as possible to the cochonnet. To do so, they take one step from the circle, in any direction, and (balanced on one leg) throw the ball into the air toward the cochonnet.
Shooters try to knock the opponent's balls away from the cochonnet. To do so, they run three steps from the circle and, upon the third step (while in the air) throw their boule at the target boule, before the next foot (the fourth step) touches the ground. The Jeu Provençale is still played by tens of thousands, primarily in the South of France. The average game takes three to four hours to complete.
Jules LeNoir had been an excellent Jeu Provençale player until an accident left him crippled from the waist down. Although confined to a wheel chair, he began challenging players to a new game, involving pointing and shooting at a cochonnet while standing with their feet (or wheels) placed inside the circle. The word Pétanque is simply short for pieds (feet) tanqués (securely fastened).
Jules LeNoir invented Pétanque in La Ciotat, a port city in the south of France. His place in history is marked by a plaque on the playing area where it all began.