Mille Bornes Rules: How to Play this Classic French Card Game

If you’re someone who is into both cars and cards, we have the perfect game for you. Take this chance to read up on our guide to the Mille Bornes rules.

Pronounced ‘meal borns’, this French card game takes the concept of a European road trip and applies it to a card game that everyone can enjoy.

And with 10 million copies sold worldwide over the last 50 years, the game must be good to have that level of popularity. 

Gameplay takes some understanding, making it a little daunting for first time players. 

However fear not, after a few rounds, you’ll very likely get the hang of it.

And with this handy tips guide to learning how to play Mille Bornes and getting started the right way, you’ll be playing like a pro in no time.

Let’s start with the basics.

What Is Mille Bornes?

Mille Bornes Card Game Info Image

If you’ve ever been on a road trip and come across signs with places that you don’t recognize, this game is for you. 

The game started out in France and was developed by Arthur Dujardin. Although it was born from a similar game called Touring which traced back to 1906.

Each round players travel 1,000 miles which is the distance between Paris and Milan via Turin. A popular vacation destination for 1950’s Europeans. Hence, the game got its name as ‘1000 kilometers’ in European versions of the game.

Number of Players Required: 2-6 players, although traditionally played with 4 players in 2 teams of 2.

Who Can Play It: All ages, although children may need a bit of help when they first play.

Difficulty: Medium.

Length of Play: 45 – 60 minutes.

Similar to: Touring; Gumball Rally; Formula Motor Racing; Uno

Main Objective: Become the first player or team to accumulate 5000 points across the game. Each round, players attempt to complete trips of exactly 1000 miles to score points.

Why we love it: The Mille Bornes rules are so unique, it’s likely that whoever you introduce the game to won’t have played anything like this game. Young kids will develop their numerical skills while playing. Adults will appreciate that it uses real-life issues for its gameplay.

Playing Mille Bornes – What You’ll Need

Mille Bornes is a game where you’ll need very little to begin playing, making it perfect if you’re not a fan of fiddly games with a lot of game pieces.

All that you’ll need is a Mille Borne game set that includes:

  • 110 cards
  • Special card tray
  • Scoring sheets
  • Space or table for players to play.
  • A pen and paper to record scoring.

And that’s everything In terms of Mille Borne game sets, we recommended this version of Mille Borne by Asmodee.

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How To Set Up Mille Bornes

Mille Bornes requires a little bit of set up. If playing in pairs, start by having the pairs sit opposite from one another for the game.

Place the empty card tray in the middle of players, which will hold both the draw pile and discard pile.

Have one player shuffle the deck of cards and deals each player 6 cards starting with the player on their left. The rest of the cards are then placed in the card tray as the draw pile.

Mille Bornes Rules and Gameplay

The most important part when learning the Mille Borne rules is understanding what each card means and what it does during gameplay.

These include:

  • Distance cards – These are the cards with milestones on them. Each one has a number that represents the distance traveled added together at the end of the game.
  • Hazard cards – Used to hinder your opponent’s progress on their travels. There are 18 hazard cards in total, with 5 different types.
  • Remedy cards – These counter the effects of the hazard cards if the correct one gets played. There are 38 of these, also with 5 different types.
  • Safety cards – Played to avoid an opponent from using a hazard against you or your team. There are 4 of these, with 4 different versions.

Once all players have confirmed that they understand what each card’s ability is, the game can begin.

Starting the Game

Play starts from the player that is to the left of the dealer. Each player should have 4 separate piles of cards which include: Battle piles; speed piles; safety areas, and distance piles.

The starting player begins by drawing a card from the draw pile and then playing one card from their hand so that they have 6 cards in their hand. This continues around the circle.

How to play Milles Bornes

Mille Bornes gets easier to play now that you know what each card means and how they’re used.

The overall goal is to get to 5000 miles traveled, with each round being worth up to 1000 miles. Achieve this by accumulating distance cards uninterrupted by your opponents.

After each turn, players must have 6 cards only in their hand. If they cannot play a card then a card gets added to the discard pile to ensure the rule of 6 gets followed at all times.

Taking it in turns around the circle, players will either play a distance or safety card onto their own relevant pile. A hazard card can also get played onto an opponent’s pile to hinder their journey.

If a player uses a hazard card, then the affected player can save themselves with a remedy card or they suffer the consequences displayed on the car.

Keeping gas topped up is also vital to be able to make the distance, these are also cards and players must use before an opponent can play a distance card.

The first player or team to complete a trip of exactly 1000 miles stops that round, and the points based on the game just played get totaled up.

This continues until a player or team manages to accumulate 5000 points, who becomes the winner/s.

Milles Bornes Rules – Coup Forre

Another important aspect of Milles Bornes to consider is the Coup Forre. This translates into English as ‘counter-thrust’.

If a player tries to use a hazard card against you, but you hold the corresponding safety card, immediately shout ‘coup forre’ and play the safety card. This negates the effects of the hazard card.

It must get done before you or any other player draws another card otherwise it gets invalidated. Draw another card if successfully used so that you have 6 in your hand.

Scoring In Milles Bornes

The scoring system is vital in a game of Milles Bornes, as this is what eventually determines who wins the game.

Calculate scoring as followed:

  • Each player or team’s distance traveled is directly converted into points, so 1000 miles would become 1000 points for example.
  • Each safety card played is worth 100 points.
  • If all 4 different safety cards get played by the same individual or team, that is worth 300 bonus points.
  • Each successful Coup Forre is 300 points.
  • 400 bonus points if a 1000 mile trip gets completed.
  • An additional bonus of 300 points if players complete the 1000 mile trip after all cards get taken from the draw pile.
  • 300 points awarded to the player or team who completes the 1000 mile trip without using a 200-mile distance card.
  • If a team completes the 1000 mile trip before a team or individual uses any distance cards, an extra 500 points.
mille bornes rules playing image

Frequently Asked Questions

In the Mille Bornes rules, what happens if a player exceeds 1000 miles?

If a player or team uses a card that pushes their distance traveled to over 1000 miles, the offending card must get discarded. The score is also discredited.

The aim of the game after all is to travel the distance from Paris to Milan, so any additional miles means that you’ve overshot your destination.

What happens if more than 1 player or team manages to accumulate 5000 points throughout the Mille Bornes?

If this happens during one of your games, simply award the victory to the team that has accumulated the most points.

In the unlikely event these are matching, then award the win to the team with the most distance traveled across the game. 

Alternative games to Milles Bornes

If you’re somebody who likes card games that are a bit different, be sure to check out our game guides to other niche games by reading the 5-Minute Dungeon rules as an example.

Also, expand your card game varieties that use cards different from the standard 52 card deck by learning how to play Unstable Unicorns or by checking out Apples to Apple’s.

We’ve even got you covered if you like more traditional games, so be sure to have a look at our guide to Conquian or the Pitty Pat card game.

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