The Game of Seven Families

Le Jeu des 7 Familles

We found this card game in France, most likely in Paris, back in 1965. We were traveling on Five Dollars A Day, guided by an early edition of Frommer's original guide book. Even back then we liked the artwork in this game of Seven Families. The goal, as you might imagine, was to collect the most complete families. In France, a family included the same foursome that a family included in America, a father, a mother, a son, and a daughter, but also, the young lovers, a fiancé and a fiancée. If you lined up the cards of a family in the right order, you would build a broader image with the backgrounds linking the family members.


This might well have been the first French family. There is dad, hard at work, and mom, cooking dinner. We're not sure of what critter the cave girl has as her pet, but she too is hard at work at domesticating animals. The Lascaux cave paintings are perhaps 16,000 years old, though the young man's mammoth drawing might date from well before that.

Famille Ramses

This isn't exactly a French family, but there they are. Dad is clearly some kind of honcho making his wife a honchess. A Gaul family might have been more appropriate, but there was no reason for such a hackneyed approach, what with Asterix and pals claiming that territory. Ramses, if you are curious, dates from the 13th century before Christ.

Famille Du Manoir

The Song of Roland anyone? We are definitely back in France now and in the colorful Middle Ages of the troubadors and Age of Chivalry. That puts us in the 12th or 13th century, which if the artwork is accurate, was also the golden age of dunce caps as a fashion accessory.

Famille Poule Au Pot

Poule au pot, chicken in a pot, is a reference to Henry IV in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. He reportedly said, "If God spares me, I will ensure that there is no working man in my kingdom who does not have the means to have a chicken in the pot every Sunday!" He was also noted for his religious tolerance, having converted from Calvinism to Catholicism, noting that "Paris is worth a mass".

Famille Bien Aime

Bien aime, well loved, is a reference to King Louis XV in the 18th century. We're not going to say much about the clothes, or the moose head on the wall.

Famille Incroyable

Incroyable, meaning incredible, is a reference to a fashionable subculture of the late 18th and early 19th century between the Revolution and Napoleon. The men were incredible, incroyable, and the women marvelous, merveilleuse. Judging from the artwork, those adjectives still seem apt.

Famille Charleston

This is an obvious reference, even for someone who only speaks English. The Charleston was a popular dance in the 1920s, after the Great War had devasted much of France. How does one say "flapper" in French anyway?


The Box


This is the original box. As you can see, 45 years has not been kind to it.

Regle de JeuThe game itself is pretty straightforward. The cards are dealt out one by one, and the players hold them in hand. When they get a family, they lay it out in front of them. When all the cards have been dealt, they take turns asking one of the other players if they have a particular card that they need to complete a particular family. If that player has that card, they have to give it to the player who asked, and that player gets to ask for another card until a player that they ask for a card does not have it. Obviously, this doesn't work for a two player game, but when you play with larger groups, this doesn't matter.
If you are curious, you can still buy this game today at Amazon, but none of the games has the wonderful artwork of the Catel version. We checked out eBay in France and found dozens of versions including a EuroDisney version and one based on families of mushrooms, though we couldn't find this particular Catel version.


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