Pétanque (pronounced "pay-tonk") originated in Provence, France at the turn of the last century. It's played with metal balls (boules) and, like horseshoes and bocce, is easy to learn and fun to play. You throw the boules while standing with your feet together in a circle. There's a small wooden target ball (the cochonnet), which you have to get as close as possible to. What makes the game so appealing, is that you can be way ahead for a while, yet lose a second later, or vice versa. Because nothing is decided until the last player plays the very last boule. If he or she moves the cochonnet or hits an opponent's boule out of the way, the layout of the boules - and thus your score - can change dramatically.
Note: to explain to new members why we haven't had a game recently: our usual venue closed! Flood Park in Menlo Park where our Petanque Court is located has been entirely closed since the end of 2010 for renovations and other work to take place. We are eagerly awaiting for it to reopen so we can start to play again on a more regular basis.