top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

Finnish pétanque is taking France by störm

As France stacks the footballs away after Euro 2016, Brittany is readying itself for another international event: the Mölkky World Championship, to be held near Rennes on August 20-21.

France – and Brittany in particular – has adopted Mölkky so whole-heartedly that there are now more Mölkky players in France than in Finland, where the skittles-type game was invented by the Tuoterengas company in 1996. There are Mölkky associations springing up in departments all over France, as social clubs and families discover the tactics and skills required and the World Championship will be the first held outside of Finaland.

Mölkky can be played anywhere, even on rough ground where bowling-type games would be difficult. The idea is to throw a pin (a short fat piece of wood) to knock down skittles (very similar short fat pieces of wood). Each skittle is worth one to 12 points, and the winner is the first player to score exactly 50 points.

If a player only knocks down one skittle, the score is the number written on the skittle, but if a player knocks down multiple skittles, the score is one point per skittle knocked down regardless of their individual worth in points. If a player goes over 50 points, they are automatically taken back to 25 points. It can be played by individuals or in teams of two to four people.

Anthony Masset, the vice-president of the French Mölkky Federation told Connexion that the game can be played by all ages. “It’s a game of tactics and skill, not strength – so all generations can play together from four to 94. Everyone loves Mölkky.”

The rules mean that if everyone arrives simultaneously at a score of 49 points, the games becomes about preventing others winning just as much as it is about winning yourself. Mr Masset also says the game is safe for children and at the beginning it is easy to make a home-made set of skittles.

“We are hosting the first World Championships to be held outside Finland this year, which is very exciting. There will be hundreds of teams from all over the world, with four players and two replacement players in each team. It’s great for us, and we hope lots of people will come to spectate, although as the game is only 10 years old, it isn’t that well-known in France.”

He says it has become popular in France because it is a variation on the nationally loved game of pétanque, and that people have already developed regional variations. “Here, if you score 51, you have to buy all the other players a drink. But in Marseille, you have to score 51 to win”. (Pastis 51 is often called the “Pastis de Marseille”.)

For more information about the World Championships, and to find an association in your area, see

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Income Tax in France 2023 (for 2022 income)*
Featured Help Guide
- Primarily aimed at Britons, covers pensions, rent, ISAs, shares, savings and interest - but also contains significant general information pertinent to readers of other nationalities - Overview of online declarations + step-by-step guide to the French printed forms - Includes updates given automatically after this year's site opened
Get news, views and information from France