I have always played board games or table top games in some shape or other, either that or solved puzzles: jigsaws, mazes, logic problems etc. I played my first video game on an ancient console in the late 70’s, then on a ZX81 in 1981 before moving to a C64. In the early 2000s, while working as a software developer, I slowly lost interest in PC games and turned back to sewing and knitting with their tangible end results as creative and intellectual pursuits.
Some years ago, I had heard about the new generation of board games and had even bought My First Carcassone and Catan Jr for my then young children. But a difficult family life meant they only got a few plays.
One year ago, now divorced, I took my kids to a local festival des jeux where we discovered some great games, some of which later ended up under the Christmas tree. I found that here in France, many towns have ludothèques which are toy and game lending libraries, we signed up to our local one and have borrowed many games to try, some of which we have since bought. We also go to games nights there once a month.
Much of life in France is organised around associations and this is true for board games. In December last year, I started regularly attending games nights on a Friday at Langueux Ludik an association de jeux de société, then in early spring, I found another, Chifoumi, who also organise an annual festival 22 v’a là les jeux, I was able to attend and volunteer and even taught a few families how to play Kingdomino in French!
In the summer, while on holiday in the area, my children and I spent two days at the amazing FLIP: Festival Ludique International de Parthenay. Held every year, this celebration of games takes over the town of Parthenay in France.
A town that is so worth visiting even when it doesn’t have a crazy, tumultuous, ridiculous games festival sprawling through its streets. Perhaps these will convince you:
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Now, I go to games night Thursday and Friday every two weeks (when I don’t have my children) and sometimes I can persuade them to go on a Friday night too. Occasionally, I go to a monthly Saturday night at a local games shop if it doesn’t clash with me having the kids.
I have progressed from games like Sushi Go and Kingdomino to heavy euros although I am yet to join in a game of Lisboa as I feel the added cognotive weight of playing in French would be just to much for me in a game that already has so much to think about!
I would like to find a group that plays in English, just so that I can play games with a strong narrative, especially those with a unique theme such as Holding On, Fog of Love and even Gen 7, the new Crossroads game from Plaid Hat Games. I also miss playing word games, my French is excellent for a second language speaker but I don’t have the nuanced depth of vocabulary to really enjoy word games.
There will be a Part 2 at some point…