The classic game of pétanque is played between two teams of three, each player with two hollow steel balls, known as boules. The aim is for a team to get its boules closer to a small wooden target ball – the jack – than the opposing players and thus score points.
Games are also often played as doubles – teams of two – or singles. For doubles and singles each player has three boules.
The playing area, referred to as the piste or terrain, typically has a firm but slightly uneven surface with a thin layer of gravel. Competitive pétanque is not played on grass, beach sand or thick gravel.