10 Most Popular French Card Games to Play with Friends
Did you know people have been playing card games in France since the 1300s?
This old fashioned form of fun truly stands the test of time. Today, there are many cool, creative card games you can play in French, while also giving your language skills a fun boost.
We’ll show you our 10 favorites below, which also happen to be the most popular in France. Several of these games use a standard deck of cards, so you’ll have all you need to play already.
We’ve included silly word games, macabre mysteries, classic French strategy games and there’s even a card game that gained popularity in the 15th century.
Let the French card games begin!
- 1. Black Stories: Édition française
- 2. Piquet
- 3. Timeline
- 4. Toutilix
- 5. 2 sans 3 (2 Without 3)
- 6. Belote
- 7. Tarot
- 8. Écarté
- 9. Coinche
- 10. Sueca
- Why Play French Card Games?
- And one more thing...
1. Black Stories: Édition française
Buy on: Amazon
Black Stories: Édition française (French Edition) is a super fun French game that can be played with as little as two people or as big a group as you want.
The game comes with a pack of cards that each contain a front and back. On the front, everyone who’s playing will be able to see an image and a short, vague description (just a sentence or two) of an event.
Like its name implies, each event and story will be a bit dark, which only adds to the fun!
For example, a card might read something like, “Susan was found dead in the forest with nothing but an unlit matchstick.”
On the back of the card, one designated person (each round, choose someone different) will silently read the entire story explaining exactly what happened to bring about the event on the front of the card. Then, each player will take turns asking questions in French to the designated person as they try to figure out the enigma.
Play continues until someone has at last figured out the entire story and is able to tell it from start to finish, thus winning the game.
The difficulty is that you can only ask yes-or-no questions but the stories are quite elaborate and outlandish, often containing many different pieces to uncover.
The cool thing about Black Stories is that there are tons of different versions, such as cards with only science fiction, fantasy, cinema or music stories.
As such, you’ll never run out of exciting stories and you’ll gain exposure to endless amounts of good vocabulary!
If you’re interested in checking out the game more, see this video in French:
Buy on: Amazon
Piquet is an extremely old French game that’s been popular in France since the 15th century.
The game is meant for two players and consists of six deals of 12 cards dealt to each player. It’s played with a normal deck of cards by removing all of the numbers from two through six, leaving you with 32 cards.
By discarding and drawing, players attempt to improve their hands by gaining certain sets and sequences of numbers, which each have a different value (similar to poker, for example).
Of course, the player with the best score after all six rounds wins the game.
All of the specific rules and card sequences can be found at Pagat.com.
One of the coolest things about Piquet is that the game retains tons of French phrases, ensuring that you’ll have plenty to practice while playing. For example, the six deals are called a partie (part) and a quatorze (fourteen) is four Aces, Kings, Queens or Jacks, which scores 14 points.
Plus, if you agree to speak in French for the duration of the game, you’ll get in some great language practice with this detailed card game!
Here’s a helpful video that explains how to play:
Buy on: Amazon
Timeline is a great way to learn French and history at the same time.
There are many different versions of this card game, each with a different theme such as inventions, French history, science, music and cinema or even “Star Wars!”
The goal of the game is to get rid of all your cards by putting them in the correct order by the date or time in which they occurred.
To explain how to play, I’ll use the example of the inventions-themed version.
Play starts with one card in the center of the table and four cards dealt to each player. The rest of the deck is placed on the side to be used as the draw pile.
Cards have a front and back to them, with the front containing the name and image of an invention (for example, a bottle opener) and the back containing the date of when the invention was created.
Each person’s four cards are laid out in front of them face-up so that no one can see the dates. The center card, however, is turned so that the date is visible to everyone.
Players take turns placing their cards in the center either before or after the others already there according to when they think the item was invented, thus creating a timeline.
Once you place your card where you believe it goes, flip it over and see if it was placed correctly or not according to the date. If you were correct, then you leave it there and have successfully gotten rid of one of your cards.
If you were incorrect, then place the card at the bottom of the draw pile and draw a new card.
Of course, as the game proceeds, it becomes harder and harder for you to divine where your card goes, since you’ll have more and more dates already added to the timeline and will have to be very precise with your guess!
Timeline is a great game for learning a huge variety of vocabulary and an excellent way to remember it as you’ll see both the French word and its image, which functions just like a flashcard.
Here’s a helpful how-to-play video:
Buy on: Amazon
Toutilix is a truly fabulous game for French learners, as it revolves completely around inventing French phrases and words, with special attention to using correct grammar.
Toutilix is genius because, with just one deck of 110 cards (each contains a letter of the alphabet), you can play at least 35 different games at different levels, making it perfect for beginners, intermediate learners and expert French speakers alike! In each game, the principal is the same—to gain cards and construct phrases—but the way you do so varies from version to version.
The other cool thing about having so many playing choices is that there are games you can play alone or in groups of up to around eight players.
For example, an intermediate level game for at least two people would be to distribute seven cards, face-down, to each player and put one face-up in the center.
The first player draws their top card and must decide whether to put it before or after the center card in order to construct a complete French sentence with the two cards using their corresponding letters. So if the letters are G and S, you can say, Guillaume sourit (Guillaume smiles). For this particular version, the number of letters in each word doesn’t matter, as long as the words begin with the letters shown on the cards in play.
As play continues, it becomes harder and harder because you have to make sentences with many different words and letters!
It’s played in rounds, with the winner of each round—the one who played the most cards—gaining all of the cards in the center.
Once the entire deck has been used, whoever has the most cards wins.
Learn more about this game here (in French):
5. 2 sans 3 (2 Without 3)
Buy on: Amazon
This is a simple but fun card game consisting of a deck of 98 cards, each containing a different color and number. Players must get rid of cards according to the ascending order of the numbers already in play.
The game consists of several rows of numbers on which to play, and whoever puts the fifth card on any row gains a card.
The goal is to gain points by getting two of each color and to avoid losing points by having three of any color.
Unlike the other card games, which focus somewhat on French words or letters, this card game will greatly help you practice your numbers if you say them in French each time that you put a card down.
Here’s a French video explaining more about this game:
Buy on: Amazon
Belote is a widely cherished French card game that has maintained its popularity since the 20th century. The game is designed for four players, forming two partnerships, and is played over a series of rounds. A standard 32-card deck is utilized, removing all cards from two through six.
At the commencement of each round, players are dealt a hand of five cards. The central element of the game lies in the bidding process, where players compete to declare the trump suit for that particular round.
The game introduces a distinctive scoring system, with specific point values assigned to different cards and combinations. For example, the highest-ranking card, the trump Jack, is called la belote and scores additional points.
One of the intriguing aspects of Belote is its emphasis on communication between partners. Players can exchange information through specific signals and understandings to optimize their collective strategy.
Here’s a French language video explaining the rules of Belote:
Buy on: Amazon
Tarot, a captivating card game of French origin, has captivated players for centuries and continues to be a popular pastime. Diverging from the mystical associations of tarot cards in fortune-telling, the French Tarot game employs a specialized deck of 78 cards.
Typically played by three to five participants, Tarot unfolds through a series of rounds. Players bid on the number of tricks they intend to win and strive to achieve their declared goal.
A distinctive feature of Tarot is the presence of the “Excuse” card, which serves as a powerful trump card that can alter the course of the game. The remaining 21 numbered trump cards, along with the 56 suited cards, contribute to the rich strategic depth of the game.
Tarot boasts a unique set of rules and terminology, enhancing its cultural significance. The game’s traditional French terminology, such as petit au bout (winning the last trick), adds to its charm and provides players with a linguistic immersion experience.
Here’s a great tutorial video about French Tarot:
Buy on: Amazon
Écarté (meaning “discarded”), a classic French card game with roots dating back to the 17th century, continues to enthrall players with its refined gameplay and strategic depth. Tailored for two participants, Écarté employs a 32-card deck by removing all cards from two through six, leaving behind the more significant cards.
The game unfolds through a series of rounds, known as “parties,” where players engage in a battle of wits and skill. Each participant is dealt a hand of five cards, and the objective is to win tricks in order to achieve specific goals set for each round. The discarded and drawn cards play a crucial role as players seek to improve their hands and gain advantageous card combinations.
Similar to poker, specific sets and sequences of numbers hold varying values, contributing to the overall score. The player with the best score at the conclusion of all six rounds emerges as the victor.
One of the notable aspects of Écarté is its preservation of French phrases, enriching the gaming experience with linguistic nuances. For instance, a quatorze (fourteen) represents four Aces, Kings, Queens or Jacks, scoring 14 points.
Here’s a helpful how-to video:
Buy on: Amazon
Coinche, a popular variation of the classic French card game Belote, has gained widespread acclaim for its strategic depth and collaborative gameplay. Typically played by four participants in two partnerships, Coinche introduces an exciting bidding system that adds a layer of complexity to the traditional Belote framework.
Using a standard 32-card deck, Coinche involves a series of rounds where players bid on the number of points they anticipate accumulating in tricks. The bidding process also includes the declaration of the trump suit for that particular round, which significantly influences the course of gameplay.
Throughout the game, players aim to win tricks and accumulate points based on the values of the cards in their tricks. The trump suit, along with the distinctive scoring system, contributes to the overall strategy and decision-making in Coinche.
One of the noteworthy aspects of Coinche is its fusion of traditional Belote elements with the strategic nuances introduced by the bidding mechanism. Effective communication between partners becomes paramount during the bidding phase, as players work together to optimize their chances of success.
Coinche retains the cultural charm of Belote, with its terminology and phrases reflecting the rich tradition of French card games. Engaging in Coinche is not only fun, it also serves as an opportunity to practice French, as players immerse themselves in the game’s unique vocabulary.
Here’s a French language how-to video:
Buy on: Amazon
Sueca, a captivating card game originating from Portugal (where it means “Swedish”), but embraced in France, particularly in the southern regions, combines elements of strategy and teamwork. Typically played by four participants in partnerships, Sueca employs a standard 40-card deck.
The game unfolds through a series of rounds, where players aim to win tricks and score points based on the value of the cards in those tricks. Sueca stands out for its simplicity and fast-paced nature, making it a favorite in social settings such as cafes and homes.
One of Sueca‘s distinctive features is its straightforward bidding system. Players declare the number of tricks they believe their team can win, adding an element of prediction and risk to the game. The trump suit, determined during the bidding phase, holds prominence, influencing the hierarchy of cards.
Sueca embraces the importance of teamwork and communication between partners. Players collaborate to optimize their strategy and make the most of their collective efforts. This collaborative aspect enhances the social dynamics of the game and fosters a sense of camaraderie among participants.
While Sueca might have originated outside France, its popularity in the country ensures that players often engage in the game using French terminology. This linguistic dimension adds an extra layer of cultural immersion for players, making Sueca not just a card game but also a linguistic and social experience.
If you’re curious about how to play Sueca, watch this informative video:
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Why Play French Card Games?
Besides the fact that they’re just plain fun, there are several reasons card games can improve your French.
For starters, playing games gives you a memorable context in which to learn and remember French words and phrases. If rote memorization doesn’t work for you, turning your French studies into a game is a great alternative.
You’ll also be able to involve other French learners of different levels, so you can correct one another and expose one another to new vocabulary.
Moreover, when you’re in an environment where you’re playing with friends, you’re relaxed and have less pressure to speak with the perfect accent and grammar. This means you’re much more likely to talk freely and spontaneously, getting you out of your shell and helping you to speak French naturally in no time.
Card games in particular are super convenient for French practice. You can always carry around a small pack of cards so you’re ready whenever and wherever to learn and play.
Plus, there are tons of different types of French games so you’ll definitely never run out of new things to try.
Learning through play is an extremely enjoyable and effective way to brush up on your language skills. It’s time to have fun with one of the great French card games above!
And one more thing...
If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.