La Boule d'Or Petanque Terrain – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura
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San Francisco, California

La Boule d'Or Petanque Terrain

A playing field for a popular French past time can be found tucked away in a quiet corner of Golden Gate Park. 

Tucked away in a rarely visited corner of the park, this modest gravel playing field in Golden Gate Park is home to the second oldest Petanque club in the United States, known as La Boule d’Or, founded in 1959 and still active to this day.

Petanque is a team sport, originally played in the South of France. Starting at the turn of the last century and often confused with Italian bocce or Scottish lawn bowling, petanque is played on a hard dirt or gravel plain known as a “terrain” with metal balls that are lobbed towards a wooden ball called a “cochonnet”. It is played by an estimated 17 million people in France, but US clubs total just 1,500 members.

During the week, the Golden Gate Petanque Terrain is a quiet place to read or enjoy the sun. Members of La Boule d’Or use the terrain on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays after 1:30pm.