The game was created in 1954 by Edmond Dujardin [fr] as 1000 Bornes, and is almost identical to the earlier American automotive card game Touring, designed by William Janson Roche in 1906. One additional feature is the coup-fourré (“counter-thrust”), whereby bonus points are earned by holding back a safety card (such as the puncture-proof tire) until an opponent plays the corresponding hazard card (in this case, the flat tire). The game’s name is derived from the approximate length of the RN 7 connecting Paris to the border with Italy.
Dujardin moved to Arcachon, France in 1947, where he and his family began producing the game in the basement of his house at No. 63, Boulevard de la Plage. The box for the original 1954 edition carries the straplinela Canasta de la Route (“Canasta of the Road”), highlighting its similarity to Canasta. The cards are illustrated and hand-lettered by Joseph Le Callennec [fr], a graphic designer from France. Due to demand, production was moved to a former fish cannery in Arcachon. A revised version was released in 1960, with updated artwork from Le Callennec; in addition a “special edition” was released with more abstract artwork from Pierre Praquin. With canasta having fallen out of favor, the regular 1960 edition advertised its connection to bridge: the rulebook included an introduction written by Pierre Albarran, and the game was billed as a favorite of world champions Pierre Jaïs and Roger Trézel. Dujardin began international distribution that year with bilingual cards.
Parker Brothers, who held the license to distribute Touring in the United States, acquired a license for Mille Bornes in 1962 and began publishing its version in America with updated cover art; inside, the game used the same bilingual cards from the 1960 Dujardin regular edition. Mille Bornes was very popular in the United States, at one point outselling Monopoly.: 2 Parker Brothers updated the box/cover art again in 1971, and introduced a more comprehensive revision in 1982 with significantly simplified artwork for the cards. In the mid-1970s, the Dujardin company moved its headquarters to La Teste-de-Buch before being acquired by Regain-Galore [fr] in 1981. The headquarters in La Teste were moved to Cestas in 2009, shortly after the company was acquired by TF1 Games [fr] in 2007; Dujardin, who has produced the game continuously since 1954, currently do so in Saint-Pantaléon-de-Larche.
There have been 26 known publishers of the game in all markets. Some Mille Bornes decks are printed in both English and French. The Spanish version Mil Hitos, distributed by Heraclio Fournier, was very popular in Spain during the 1970s. In the Netherlands there is a variant of this game, Stap op, which deals with cycling instead of driving. The hazards and distances are different, but the mechanics of the game are exactly the same.
The current U.S. version, published by Asmodee, has purged all French language from the printed cards. The rules still include the “Coup Fourré” however there is no background given to the “counter thrust” translation.