Jeu de mail

Jeu de mail, in Anglo-Saxon literature called ‘pall mall’, was a one target game played with a wooden club with a cylindrical wooden head and a spherical wooden ball.

It is said that in the 15th century, the game came from Italy into France. Originally people played it in the South of France. 

The essence of the game was to reach a target in the fewest number of strokes. It was an individual game, not a team game. In the South of France, people played 'à la chicane': in the fosses, on the ramparts and the sandy tracks around the towns.

It caught the attention of kings and nobles; they played the game on specially laid out narrow playing alleys (boulevards) of up to a thousand meters in length. King François I introduced the game at Fontainebleau in the first part of the 16th century. Soon, the 'noble' game was played in many French towns, followed by the principal towns of Western Europe. The 'noble' game was played till the end of the 18th century. The game à la chicane in the South of France survived until 1939 when the last mail player in Montpellier stowed away his mail equipment in the attic of his house.

Publications on jeu de mail



Published (in)

The first trees
along the 'Maliebaan' in Utrecht

Sara Kieboom-Nijs 2023 September
The caddy in jeu de mail
Porte-lève or porte-mail

Geert Nijs

Sara Kieboom-Nijs
2015 August - Idea & first draft

2023 May - Elaboration


Geert Nijs

Sara Kieboom-Nijs
2015 June - Idea & first draft

2023 February - Elaboration
Not every “Mail” is a “Jeu de Mail”

Sara Kieboom-Nijs

2022 November

J.-J. Rousseau & le jeu de mail

Sara Kieboom-Nijs

2022 July

The end of pall mall in London

Sara Kieboom-Nijs

2021 December
De Maliebaan
in internationaal perspectief

Volkmar Eidloth & Hans Renes 2020 December
Oud-Utrecht Jaarboek 2020

Pall mall in Great Britain?

Sara Kieboom-Nijs

2020 December
Le premier joueur de mail connu
ou la Madone de l'Arche

Sara Kieboom-Nijs

2020 September

A road ... like any other?

Sara Kieboom-Nijs

2020 August
Château de Folembray
Aisne 02, Hauts de France

Sara Kieboom-Nijs

2020 July
Fact-finding on 'Jeu de Mail' (Pall Mall): Marseille

Sara Kieboom-Nijs
2020 Spring
golfika (magazine of the European Association of Golf Historians and Collectors)
Mailbahnen als städtebauliche und landschaftsplanerische Innovation im 17. Jahrhundert.

Volkmar Eidloth & Hans Renes
Archäologie – Geschichte – Geographie 35

Jeu de mail à Orange

Geert & Sara Nijs

2017 March

The earliest of rules of jeu de mail

Geert & Sara Nijs
2014 - Part of the chapter 'The earliest of rules of the games' in 'Games for Kings & Commoners Part Two'
From Munro bagging to Mail bagging
A la recherche des anciens
courts de jeu du mail                  
Geert & Sara Nijs   2013 October
Presentation at the AGM of the European Association of Golf Historians & Collectors at Bruxelles
La Bernarde : boule de mail
pour s'assurer la victoire ?

2012 La France pittoresque, N° 41
Le Noble Jeu de Mail
de la ville de Montpellier

Philippe Estang

2009 February

Jeu de Mail Part 2

Henri Jakubowicz
2003 March - Through The Green
(magazine of the
British Golf Collectors Society)

Jeu de Mail Part 1

Henri Jakubowicz
2002 December - Through The Green
(magazine of the
British Golf Collectors Society)

The Sister of Golf
Andrew Lang1909 Octobre - Article in Blackwood’s Magazine
Reprint in Golf Illustrated, Vol. 4,
Number 4, January 1916

Chevalier du Bois Roulant

Paul Hamelle
1909 March
Article dans "Le Sport Universel - Illustré"
Source : Bibliothèque nationale de France

Histoire du jeu de mail et du billard

L.E. Fournier

1889 Histoire des jouets et des jeux d'enfant
© Le Livre d'histoire-Lorisse
Paris 2002
Di Giocatori di Palla al maglio    
Antonfrancesco Grazzini
1559 Rime di Antonfranceso Grazzini detto Il Lasca, Parte Seconda