Mille Bornes (1954)
Making highway travel all fun and games.
Thinking of my favorite card game recently, Mille Bornes, got me thinking about how beautiful highways can be.
Highways don’t get a lot of compliments (especially during long holiday weekends requiring travel), but Mille Bornes reminds us of the idealism of mid-century highway architecture.
Mille Bornes was created in France in 1954 by Edmond Dujardin, and takes its name from the distance markers on French roads. Not much of the highway is seen on the cards, other than those markers on the distance cards (which also imply that French ducks can run 50 km/h). However, the sleek lines of the images certainly showcase mid-century design and even hint at some of the classic highway forms, such as the beautiful cloverleaf interchanges.
The game premiered just two years before the US Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 created the Interstate Highway System (officially known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways).
President Eisenhower pushed for the system based on his experiences on a cross-country military convoy after WWI. But he was also inspired by his use of Germany’s autobahn during WWII.
The Interstate System brought significant social change to the US, especially in rural areas, and certainly put car culture in the fast lane. But my favorite contribution? A terrific card game.