Petanque at Buster's BistroIf you’ve spent any time at Buster’s Bistro, you’ve probably heard some bizarre words thrown around, and chances are one of them is “pétanque”. The Belgians love this traditional lawn game, and thanks to Paul Buster’s crew at Buster’s Bistro and the Current Magazine, you can play pétanque every month in the Current Monthly Pétanque Tournament!

What the helles is pétanque?

A derivative of boules or lawn bowling, pétanque is a outdoor game that was invented in France. (Though I’m sure if you ask Paulii, there’s some tale about how the French stole it from the Belgians or something.) The story goes that a local French cafe owner invented the game in 1910, modifying a usual boules or bacci game with a shorter field to help out a patron who had rheumatism, making the game less strenuous, with no running required. So basically, a this guy made just the right adjustments so that Sanfordites in 2017 could get properly buzzed and still play the game, which means we all owe him a huge debt.

The object of the game is to get your three metal balls closer to the tiny target ball than your opponent. Seems pretty simple, but the game is played on a semi-firm gravel, sand, or grass playing field, which lends a little spontaneity to the game, and head’s up, that target ball is mobile, which means that it can change position at any time. Unpredictability + beer = fun!Petanque boules on a pitch

Mike Smith playing Petanque at Buster's BistroWhere and when to play petanque in Sanford

I’m totally biased, but I think the best time to play pétanque is at the Current Monthly Pétanque Tournament, which began almost exactly four years ago at the original Buster’s Bistro location. When they first opened, Paul, Harry, and the gang taught several people in town how to play this quirky game, including myself and Mike Smith, GM of the Imperial and an all around Sanford-vangelist. And since Mike Smith has never met a competitive game he didn’t want to make into a tournament, the monthly pétanque tournament was born to bring people together in the name of Belgian beers and metal balls. (In fact, all of the photos you see here were taken by me over the course of the last four years. See if you can tell the new Buster’s photos from the old!)Jeremy playing petanque at Buster's Bistro

5 Reasons to Play Petanque in Sanford

You know you want to, but here are some reasons you should consider joining in on the weirdest sounding game in town!

1. It’s only as competitive as you want it to be

Jeremy and Pete playing Petanque at Buster's BistroPétanque is one of those games that you can get crazy good at if you really apply yourself. It’s also one of those games where you can get insanely lucky due to the uneven gravel and drinking factors. For that reason, you can take it as seriously or un-seriously as you like! If you’re like me, you’ll focus on drinking and socializing and be pleasantly surprised when you place in the final rounds, but if you’re one of those people who has to win, you’ll find plenty of people to get as fierce as you– believe me. If you get 1st or 2nd place, you get your name on a plaque that goes on Buster’s door. Do it for the glory!

2. This game is designed for day drinking

There are few things I like better than sipping a chilly Belgian beer and playing a game with rules I can actually remember while drinking. (And if I can’t, the more intense competitors are never scared to point out my transgressions.) In fact, I usually feel even more in tune with my skills and form after a few Wittekerke Wilds! Day drinking is not only allowed during pétanque , it’s pretty much a de facto regulation.A glass of Bavik at Buster's Bistro during a petanque tournament

3. The company can’t be beat

Nelson Beverly at a petanque tournamentIf you’re looking to get better acquainted with the Sanford community, pétanque is a fast track to making friends. Usually, 16 people play in the tournament, bringing with them significant others, kiddos, and almost always, four legged friends. That means that even if both pétanque courts are in play, there’s still a slew of fun characters to get to know while you wait for your bracket. Some of my favorite Sanford bonds were forged during pétanque , and not going to lie– I may have thrown a few matches in my time to get back to a particularly arresting conversation.

4. Get out in the great outdoors

Hey, it’s September, which means there’s a chance of cooler weather coming our way! (Maybe.) In any case, playing pétanque is a great way to get outdoors. If you, like me, are not into the sun, you can hang out on Buster’s sweet covered patio, with a perfect view of the pitch. It’s also pretty cool to wave to other Sanfordites who pass on the sidewalk walking their dogs or in their golf carts. A lot of people stop to ask what we’re playing!Paul Buster at a petanque tournamentJustin at a petanque tournament

5. It’s free!

Mike Smith taking a picture of the petanque champions wallIt doesn’t cost anything to enter the tournament, BUT there are always prizes for the winners, which makes playing petanque the best free activity you could possibly be doing in Sanford on a Sunday afternoon. The prizes change monthly, but sometimes it’s a bar tab or merchandise like your very own set of pétanque boules. If you feel like you’re getting really good (or tipsy), you can probably goad some of the regulars into a cash game.

Join the Current Monthly Pétanque Tournament!

Add a new dimension to your Belgian beer drinking experience every third Sunday with pétanque! It’s free to enter, family and dog friendly, and one of the best ways to feel connected to people who, like you, love spending time in Downtown Sanford. For more information, talk to the folks at Buster’s Bistro!

Current Monthly Petanque Tournament
Every 3rd Sunday
Buster’s Bistro, Sanford FL
Admission: Free!

Sanford365 was in no way compensated to write this article, Sumalee just can’t help herself. If you would like some of that classic Sanford365 enthusiasm at your next event, please contact to discuss. 

Harry Graham and Pauli Buster at a petanque tournament