Card games in France
Thanks to Thierry Depaulis for his contribution to revising and expanding this page.
- 32 cards (4 French suits: 1 R D V 10 9 8 7)
- The popular French games of Belote and Manille use this pack.
- All recent surveys show that Belote is by far the most popular card game in France. From World War II Belote has become the "national" card game of the French - succeeding in this position to Manille. Though a two-hander in its beginnings around 1920, Belote is now played with 4 players in all its forms. Besides standard Belote (deal to each: 5 - declarations - then 3), there are many variations: Belote bridgée (with two extra bids: Sans-Atout [no trump], Tout-Atout [all-trump]), Belote à la découverte (for two players, with 16 cards face up), auction Belote (Belote aux enchères, Belote contrée/coinchée, Quatre-vingt-deux, Belote gangster, Belote lavardacaise, etc.).
- Though it used to be the "national" game before Belote between c.1870 and 1940, Manille is now declining. It had many variations in its heyday: simple Manille (Manille muette / silent Manille), Manille parlée (talking Manille), Manille contrée / coinchée or Coinche, Auction Manille, Dix-Sept (seventeen), Trente-Quatre (thirty-four), Three-hand Manille with a dummy, Manille à l'envers (reverse Manille), Manille de misère, etc.
- Écarté, which was fashionable in the 19th century, is nowadays known only to card game connoisseurs.
- 78 card Tarot (French suits)
- The second most popular card game in France is Tarot, either played in its standard form (full bidding system: petite, pousse, garde, garde sans, garde contre), with three or four players, sometimes with five (in partnership with a called king), or in its competitive duplicate form. Tarot has enjoyed a revival in France over the last 40 years and is played all over the country. There is an official organisation (Fédération Française de Tarot) which has affiliated clubs and tournaments.
- 48 cards (4 Spanish suits: R C V 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1) - "Aluette"
- Aluette (or la Vache, "The Cow Game") is played in Vendée and the coasts of Brittany.
- International card games in France
- International games are no surprise: Bridge has its (flourishing) federation (with over 80,000 members), Rummy and Poker have many enthusiasts, and France is the origin of the Omaha Poker variant known as Courchevel. Though declining, Écarté and Mouche are still played here and there.
- Regional games in France
- Skat is played in Alsace and in the German-speaking part of Lorraine; Rams is known in the same region as well as in the North.
3-card Trouc is played in French Catalonia and Truka in the Basque Country; their old cousin Tru(t) is still very much in favour in Poitou. Vitou is a related game played in Nice.
Bete ombree, an old derivative of Ombre, is played in the Berry.
- Chouine keeps Brisque alive in West-Central France (mainly Perche and Vendomois). A shareware Chouine computer game is now available from Stéphane Cras's web site.
- Marjolet still has enthusiasts in the West (Poitou, Vendée, Aunis, Saintonge). Chasse-Coeur, a member of the Hearts family, is played in Northern France and Belgium. Bourre (à trois, à cinq) is not forgotten in the South-West of France. Some games have recently found some success but have no regional connexion: Trouduc (also called Petit-cul, Association), the French equivalent of Asshole; Barbu, whose origins can be traced back to the early 20th century (with 32 cards), was redesigned for 52 cards and promoted by Bridge players in the 1950's.
Chkobba, the Tunisian version of the Italian game Scopa played with 40 cards (R C D V 7 6 5 4 3 2 1) has become quite popular in recent years. There is also a special Corsican version of Scopa played with a 36-card pack lacking 2's.