The term “piste”, according to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary is derived from the Old Italian word “pista”, from “pistare” — to trample down — and means a trampled-down trail or track, a beaten path. In snow skiing, a “piste” is a marked ski run or path down a mountain. By extension, a “piste” is any long, narrow strip of ground where some activity takes place. In fencing, the “piste” is the long, narrow area (the fencing mat) where a fencing match takes place.
In petanque, the term “piste” is used to refer to a marked patch of ground upon which one plays petanque. The term is extensively used in Australian versions of the rules, but other versions of the rules have used the term only rarely. Currently, the FIPJP rules use the term cadre (lane).
Words like “piste”, “lane”, and “cadre” refer to a set of visible, physical marks (or strings) on the ground. So a marked patch of ground can be a piste or lane even when no game is being played on it.
In contrast, the expression “marked terrain” is not a technical term, and it is used in a different way. The word “marked” is an ordinary adjective used to indicate that the patch of ground where a game is being played (the “terrain”) has boundaries that have been marked in some way. The terrain is délimité or tracé.
For more information, see our page on the petanque playing area.
When has the term “piste” appeared in national or international rules of petanque?
- In 1972, the term appeared 4 times in the French-language international (FIPJP) rules. This was the only place that we could find it being used in a French-language rules document.
- In 1995, it appeared 2 times as an editorial interpolation in Article 18 of the English-language translation by the British Petanque Association.
- In 2006 it appeared 2 times in the FPUSA rules and 13 times in the rules and notes of the Petanque Australia.
- After 2006 it continues to appear in Australian versions of the rules.