Traditional French Games: 5 Cool Ways to Play and Study Hard (2022)

Traditional French Games: 5 Cool Ways to Play and Study Hard (1)

By Traditional French Games: 5 Cool Ways to Play and Study Hard (2)Camille Turner Last updated:

Games don’t just have to be “fun.”

There are lots of great French games out there and playing them with exchange partners, fellow learners or native friends is a really fun way to learn about the language and culture at the same time.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the best traditional games that have truly become an essential part of French culture.


  • What Do Traditional French Games Have to Offer Learners?
  • 5 Fun Traditional French Games for Stress-Free Learning
    • Pétanque
    • Escargot (Snail)
    • Jeu de la barbichette (Game of the Goatee)
    • Les loups-garous de Thiercelieux (Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow)
    • Bilboquet(Cup and Ball)

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

What Do Traditional French Games Have to Offer Learners?

Games that have been passed down over many years can tell us a lot about a culture. Through playing French games, you’ll learn about how the French enjoy spending time, the ways in which they connect with friends and family and what things they consider important enough to continue to share with each new generation.

Also, while playing certain traditional games doesn’t necessarily always teach you French intrinsically, they’re loads of fun and will give you plenty of opportunities for practicing the language if you commit to speaking in French for the duration of the game.

What’s more, in addition to speaking French while playing, you’ll definitely pick up French words and phrases associated with the game, such as ways of referring to certain scores or terminology specific to each pastime.

Plus, playing is a great way to relax your mind and have fun with learning.

With all that in mind, it’s time to call out your friends and start enjoying the following popular French games!

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5 Fun Traditional French Games for Stress-Free Learning


Pétanque is a very famous and popular outdoor French game that you’ll see played in almost every French city garden and park at almost any time of day!

This game comes from La Ciotat, a small town in Provence, where it was invented in 1907.

All you need to play is one small ball and eight larger balls (usually made out of metal).

The rules are very simple, with players dividing into two teams and then choosing someone to throw the small ball, known as the jack.

After the jack is in play, teams take turns throwing the larger balls, trying to get as close as possible to the jack.

Pétanque is played in several rounds, and at the end of each one, teams get a point for each ball closer to the jack than those of their opponents.

Players can knock the other team’s balls away from the jack, complicating things a bit, as you’ll never know who will win until the very last ball has been thrown.

No French game list is complete without pétanque, and you’re sure to look like a real Frenchie if you’re seen playing it!

Escargot (Snail)

Everyone associates escargotwith the French, and perhaps rightly so, as their infatuation with snails goes far beyond eating the delicacy!

Believe it or not, escargot is also a French variation of hopscotch that probably dates back to ancient times.

However, instead of drawing a traditional linear path with chalk, the French draw—you guessed it—a snail!

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The snail is then divided into 15-20 squares and players take turns hopping on one foot to the center while avoiding stepping on any lines or opponents’ squares.

If you step on a square or line that you’re not supposed to, then you lose a turn.

If, however, you reach the center, you’re able to claim a square of your choosing by putting your initials inside of it.

As you can imagine, the more squares that are claimed, the more difficult it becomes to get to the center.

The winner is the player with the most squares once all of them have been claimed or it has become impossible to hop to the center.

You can’t get more classic French than escargot, and it’s certainly a great opportunity to practice your French numbers!

Jeu de la barbichette (Game of the Goatee)

Jeu de la barbichetteis a very basic French game played quite often by French children and needing no materials whatsoever.

The game is played simply by sitting across from your opponent, looking him or her in the eyes and—the weirdest part of all—grabbing one another’s chin!

Yes, the French sometimes have a flair for the bizarre and jeu de la barbichette is played by continuously holding your opponent’s chin for the duration of the game—thus the namebarbichette(goatee).

Both players sing a short song together, which can be found along with its English translation at find this little French song a learning bonus as you’ll have to memorize it before you can play the game!

Once the song is finished, the first person to laugh or smile loses the game, and I must warn you that, traditionally, the reward for the winner is to have the opportunity to slap their opponent!

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Children have played this game in schools and playgrounds all across France for many years, and there was even a national, televised tournament that took place this past year (2017) calledLa Barbichette Cup.

Les loups-garous de Thiercelieux (Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow)

This game, known by the French asloups-garous(werewolves) for short, was created by French authors Philippe des Pallières and Hervé Marly in 2001, has already become immensely popular and is sure to be a French favorite for generations to come. So it’s “traditional” in a more modern sense, but highly relevant to the culture.

Loups-garousis a role-playing game that you’re sure to play if you attend just about any French party, and which doesn’t require purchasing any materials.

The game, centered around a village contaminated with werewolves, can accommodate anywhere from 8 to 47 players.

The goal ofthe game differs depending on the character you’re given. That’s to say that the werewolves win if they kill all of the villagers and the villagers win if they discover and eliminate all of the werewolves.

Each game is led by a narrator, usually the party host, who must learn the rules inside and out and be both attentive and creative, as he or she will control the flow of the game.

As for the other players, there are cards you can buy, but most people simply write the names of the characters on pieces of paper and draw them randomly to decide who will be who.

Characters’ identities are kept a secret, and each person has certain rules regarding how they may play in order to kill villagers or discover who the werewolves are.

This French game is a must whether you’re hosting a dinner party or just out in the park with a group of friends, and it will definitely leave you with some new French vocabulary!

Bilboquet(Cup and Ball)

Many of us are familiar with toys consisting of a ball, cup and string where you have to catch the ball in the cup by using one hand to swing it.

Yet perhaps you didn’t know that this game is actually called le bilboquetand has been a traditional French game since the 1500s!

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While you may not get a lot of opportunities for French practice if you just play this game by yourself at home, you can always play it with or around friends and, if nothing else, it’s an important cultural reference for you to learn about as a French student.

In fact, famous French author François Rabelais mentions the game in his well-known book,“La vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel”(“The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel”), written in 1534.

Even King Henri III was known to constantly havele bilboquetin hand!

The game has evolved somewhat over the centuries, mostly in that people usually buy the balls and cups, rather than make them at home.

Additionally, you can now either choose a classic woodenbilboquetor play with any number of designs made to render the game more or less difficult.

Playing games is a fun and carefree way to practice your French and get in touch with French culture. Play them on the side while you utilize other learning resources that can steadily increase your French fluency. And no, you don’t just have to return to textbooks and workbooks once playtime is over.

You can use resources that, like the games above, inch you closer to true French immersion, whether it’s French music on Spotify, French newspapers online, or the subtitled French videos on the FluentU language program.

The more you delve into authentic French content and matters, the more you can make your language studies genuinely fulfilling and enjoyable.

Traditional games can teach us a lot about how people find joy in life and the ways in which they share and connect with one another, so play on!

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)


What games do you play in France? ›

  • 1.1 Basketball.
  • 1.2 Cycling.
  • 1.3 Football.
  • 1.4 Handball.
  • 1.5 Ice hockey.
  • 1.6 Judo.
  • 1.7 Motorsports.
  • 1.8 Orienteering.

What is a French game? ›

boules, French Jeu De Boules, also called Pétanque, French ball game, similar to bowls and boccie. It is thought to have originated about 1910, but it is based on the very old French game of jeu Provençal. Related Topics: sports. See all related content → Boules is played between two players or teams.

Is there a game to learn French? ›

Bonjour de France invites you to learn French in a fun way through interactive games such as: hangman, anagrams, crosswords, mixed words, musical notes, etc. Choose your level, discover the surprises and measure your performances!

What do kids in France play? ›

Soccer, bicycling and tennis are favorite sports in France. In some areas, pelote, a traditional handball game, is popular.

What is the national game of France? ›


What is the name of a French card game? ›

piquet, card game, known since the 15th century in France. For centuries piquet has been regarded as one of the greatest two-player card games.

How do you play French bowls? ›

The Rules of Pétanque (Boules) - EXPLAINED! - YouTube

What do French people do for fun? ›

Certainly organized sport has a place in French society, however, with cycling, swimming, football (soccer), skiing, tennis, boules (pétanque), and, increasingly, golf, basketball, and martial arts being the most popular activities.

Can you roll the ball in boules? ›

As the name suggests, the rolling point involves the player rolling the boule all the way from the circle and towards the jack. This involves a rolling throw, and is commonly executed with the player bending at the waist or the knees.

What are 10 French words? ›

Learn Some Common French Words
  • Bonjour = Hello, Good morning.
  • Au revoir = Goodbye.
  • Oui = Yes.
  • Non = No.
  • Merci = Thank you.
  • Merci beaucoup = Thank you very much.
  • Fille = Girl.
  • Garçon = Boy.

What games have the French made? ›

Pages in category "Video games developed in France"
  • 2Dark.
  • The 3rd Millennium.
  • 4 Wheel Thunder.
  • 7 Sins (video game)
  • 9 Elefants.
  • 11-11: Memories Retold.
  • 187 Ride or Die.
  • 360: Three Sixty.

How do u say video games in French? ›

How to say Video game in French?
  1. Le jeu vidéo (m) Video game.
  2. Nous voulons vraiment gagner au jeu vidéo. We really want to win at the video game.
  3. Il est accro aux jeux vidéo. He is addicted to videogames.
  4. Les enfants jouent à des jeux vidéo. The children are playing video games.

Is Paris child friendly? ›

The vibrant city of Paris has plenty to offer visitors of all ages, and even young travellers are sure to get excited about seeing the world-famous sights of the French capital. Kids love the picturesque streets of Montmartre, iconic monuments like the Eiffel Tower, and the brilliant children's museums in Paris.

What sports do French schools have? ›

Explore this article
  • Pétanque.
  • Basketball.
  • Rugby Union.
  • Cycling.
  • Football.

What is the French word for football? ›

Le sport (= sport) is a popular topic for French conversations. Especially le football (=soccer, football), which we also commonly call le foot.

What are the names of sports in French? ›

Sports in French: Activities
  • le football américain.
  • le cyclisme.
  • l'aviron.
  • la natation.
  • le rugby.
  • une équipe.
  • le ski.
  • l'athlétisme.
21 Dec 2020

What is a French trick taking game? ›

The most likely answer for the clue is TAROT. We found more than 1 answers for French (Trick Taking Game).

How do you play Bella cards? ›

It is played by dealing first three cards to each player then another two. After that and before the bidding additional 4 cards for each player are placed face-down on the table, and on top of them 4 cards placed face-up. The dealing of these cards is similar to Poker (one card is dealt at a time to each player).

Do French play card games? ›

The most popular French card games are Belote and Manille, which are still being played despite their old age.

What happens if you hit the jack in boules? ›

Some would consider it to be poor sportsmanship, but it definitely is not illegal and there are no rules – official or unofficial – being broken. There is also the matter of challenging the jack after the first boule has been thrown. The short answer is that, no, they cannot.

How do you win at boules? ›

Scoring is the same as for Lawn Bowls - the winner of the leg scores one point for each boule that is closer to the target than the opponent's best boule. The team that reaches 13 points first, wins.

How do you play Petong? ›

The first player then throws one boule, from the same position, towards the jack aiming to get it as close as possible. The opponent then steps into the same place and tried to place a boule closer than the oppositions or knock the other boule out of the way. You must throw within 1 minute of your turn starting.

How do I impress my French boss? ›

Address others using Monsieur or Madame

You should always address your superiors and those you meet for the first time using Monsieur or Madame. Many non-French find it difficult to get used to this level of formality. However, in order to make a great first impression in France, a high level of politeness is critical.

What makes a person French? ›

French Identity and Diversity

For many, to be French generally means that one has French citizenship and exhibits the behaviours and ideals integral to French culture.

What is France famous for? ›

France is famous for the Eiffel Tower in Paris and sweet-scented lavender fields in Provence. It's a well-known tourist destination that offers museums, art galleries and fine cuisine. France is also known for its varied landscapes, from the mountains in the Alps to the dazzling beaches of Marseille, Corsica and Nice.

What size is a boule pitch? ›

About the boules pitch

A regulation size petanque pitch is 4 m wide x 15 m long (or 3 m x 12 m in certain cases). The surface can be dolomite, sand, gravel, red shale… As long as the boules roll!

What happens if you hit the cochonnet? ›

If the cochonnet is hit and leaves the playing area (where there is one) or moves beyond 20 metres from the circle, the cochonnet is dead. If one team has boules still to be thrown they get a point for each of these boules. If both teams have boules, then the end is void.

How do you make a boule pitch? ›

How To Build a Bocce Ball Court - DIY Network - YouTube

What is the shortest French word? ›

Click here if you want to see it in its entirety, we don't dare risk spelling it incorrectly. 3 The shortest French word with all the vowels is oiseau (bird). 4 Meanwhile oiseaux (birds) is the longest word where you don't pronounce any of the letters individually.

What is the easiest French word? ›

Hello: Bonjour. Goodbye: Au revoir. Goodnight: Bonne soirée, or bonne nuit. Please: S'il vous plaît (formal), s'il te plaît (informal)

What is the most beautiful French word? ›

15 Most Beautiful Words in French
  • Douceur.
  • Feuilleter.
  • Onirique.
  • Flâner.
  • Chuchoter.
  • Rêvasser.
  • Éphémère.
  • Émerveiller.
3 May 2022

What sports did France make? ›

Some of the most popular French sports include football (soccer), tennis, cycling, handball, basketball, and rugby.

How do you play escargot? ›

Escargot- French Hopscotch - YouTube

How many countries speak French? ›

A: French is the official language in 29 countries and in all French overseas regions and departments. Q: Is there a list of countries where English is spoken. A: On this page is a list of English-speaking nations and territories (see below).

How do you spell math in French? ›

For anyone who is wondering, the French word for maths is mathématiques.

How do you spell tennis in French? ›

  1. tennis, le ~ (m) tennis, the ~ Noun.
  2. tennis, le ~ (m) (baskets) sneakers, the ~ Noun. gym shoes, the ~ Noun. pumps, the ~ Noun.
  3. tennis, le ~ (m) (courts de tennisterrains de tennis) tennis courts, the ~ Noun.

How do you say English in France? ›

Say "Do You Speak English" in French | French Lessons - YouTube

What sports are in France? ›

Certainly organized sport has a place in French society, however, with cycling, swimming, football (soccer), skiing, tennis, boules (pétanque), and, increasingly, golf, basketball, and martial arts being the most popular activities.

Is basketball big in France? ›

Basketball is the second most popular sport in France and was first played there in 1893.

What are 3 French bands? ›

10 French Bands And Singers You Should Know
  • Christine and the Queens. Christine and the Queens is a music project that was founded in 2008 by Héloïse Letissier. ...
  • La Femme. ...
  • Fauve. ...
  • Yelle. ...
  • Brigitte. ...
  • Lescop. ...
  • Nekfeu. ...
  • Booba.
7 Oct 2020

What is the French word for football? ›

Le sport (= sport) is a popular topic for French conversations. Especially le football (=soccer, football), which we also commonly call le foot.

How did France start? ›

The Germanic Franks formed the Kingdom of Francia, which became the heartland of the Carolingian Empire. The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned the empire, with West Francia becoming the Kingdom of France in 987. In the High Middle Ages, France was a powerful but highly decentralised feudal kingdom.

What is the French national animal? ›

The Latin word “gallus” means both "rooster" and "inhabitant of Gaul". Certain ancient coins bore a rooster, but the animal was not used as the emblem of the tribes of Gaul. Gradually the figure of the rooster became the most widely shared representation of the French people.

What sport is Paris famous in? ›

Known throughout France as le football, or just le foot, soccer is one of France's most popular national sports. The Paris team is Paris Saint-Germain, also known as PSG. They play their home matches at the Parc des Princes, 24 rue du Commandant Guilbaud, 16 arrond.

How many football clubs are in France? ›

The league is responsible for organizing, overseeing and managing the top two leagues and is also responsible for the 46 professional football clubs that contest football in France (20 in Ligue 1, 20 in Ligue 2, and 6 in the Championnat National).

Is rugby big in France? ›

France, with 65 million people, is the world's most populous country in which rugby union has a large and dedicated following.
Rugby union in France
Nickname(s)Les Bleus, Les Bleuets (m) Les Bleues, Les Bleuettes (f) Les Tricolores
First played1872, Le Havre
Registered players360,847
7 more rows


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