Monday, 18 September 2017

Boardgaming in Toulouse

Elaine and I had a short, 8 day break based in Toulouse and stayed in a studio apartment near the

city centre. We have visited this area of France many times, exploring Cathar castles etc., but we had never spent time in Toulouse itself, just flying in and out of the airport. This time we did not hire a car, but instead opted to use the excellent public transport network. We naturally took with us a few games to play in the evenings. On our first day we explored the city and tried to get our

 bearings. Down near La Garonne we spotted a shop, ‘Sabretache’, selling wargame figures and various boardgames, so we went in for a look around. The wargame figures were nearly all 54mm and beautifully painted. We ended up talking boardgames with the owner in a mix of English and French (Elaine has very good French, I have none). Elaine asked if there was a boardgame cafe in Toulouse and it turned out there was one just around the corner.

That evening we visited the cafe, ‘Les Tricheurs’ ( The cafe had a reasonable selection of games (all with French rules) and we pondered what to play. It was still early so we chatted with the owner and she recommended the game ‘Lost Cities’ (or ‘Les Cites Perdues’). This is a 2-player game with simple rules, where players play cards in ascending order against 5 potential expeditions. You score the face values of the cards minus 20 for each expedition you undertake. In addition there are bonus cards (x2, x3, x4) for each expedition, which must be the first cards played against that expedition. The game is played over 3 rounds, and a round ends when the deck of cards is exhausted. A very simple mechanism, but hugely enjoyable and requiring a surprising degree of tactical thinking. After a couple of games, we decided to finish the evening with a game we know and love; ‘Sushi-Go’. We had a fun time and resolved to return latter in the holiday (which we did, playing more ‘Lost Cities’, plus games of ‘Hey, That’s my fish’ and ‘Carcassonne’; which was rather appropriate considering the region of France we were staying in.

It would appear that boardgaming is very popular in Toulouse and the surrounding area, because we found 2 more games shops in Toulouse itself, ‘Tire Lire’ and ‘C’est le Jeu!’, and were told of another gaming bar in a different part of the city. There was also a ‘Carcassonne’ tournament advertised taking place in Carcassonne itself. Whilst we were in Castelneudary, we noticed another boardgame convention being held there that weekend! So, all-in-all, the South West region of France is a hot-spot for anyone who enjoys boardgaming, in addition to being a beautiful region with wonderful food and wine. Highly recommended!


  1. I enjoyed this post, Mark! Can you describe the business model for "Boardgame Cafe?"

  2. Hi Jonathan,
    Essentially a boardgame café is a café (or bar) that provides tablespace that enables games to be played by customers on site. The business provides a range of games at the café/bar (usually in the range of 50-200 different games) that the customers can choose from. Thirsty Meeples in Oxford must have over 200 games on their shelves. The business makes its money from the beverages and snacks etc. sold, plus sometimes a table rental fee. The price of the beverages tends to have a small mark-up to ensure a reasonable profit margin. From my experience, the games provided ensure a good number of customers (particularly in university towns/cities). In addition, many games cafes/bars hold games events and evenings, featuring new games with the designer in attendance. The staff generally have a good knowledge of many games and can provide a summary and tutorials for new players. I think the model can work very well, and suggest you search online for such a café/bar in your neck of the woods.