French waiters to race through Paris streets as historic contest returns

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French waiters to race through Paris streets as historic contest returns
Waiters will race through the streets of Paris next month as an old French tradition is revived. Photo by FRED DUFOUR / AFP

Tourists in the narrow streets of Paris's historic centre next month may find themselves dodging swarms of servers with trays of coffee and croissants, as a long-defunct waitering contest is revived.


First born in 1914, the "Course des garçons de café" (cafe waiters' race) is being held on March 24th for the first time since 2011.

"It's the rebirth of a legendary race," said Dan Lert, one of Paris's deputy mayors and chief of the French capital's water authority Eau de Paris, which is stumping up €100,000 in sponsorship.

The competing servers - male or female - will wear a white shirt, dark trousers and an apron "which will be provided" by organisers, Lert said.


Running will be banned as they each bear a tray with a croissant, a coffee and a glass of water over a two-kilometre route through the tight medieval streets of the Marais district - all, hopefully, without spilling a drop.

The 200 contestants will start and finish the race at city hall by the Seine river.

The waiters' race was originally started to "highlight this French style of service, these establishments that are envied the world over, this Parisian way of life," said Nicolas Bonnet-Oulaldj, another deputy mayor responsible for business.

"We want the Olympic Games to give a positive boost to the profession" of restaurants and waitering, he added.

The post-2011 hiatus for the waiters' race came as no-one could be found to sponsor it until city hall stepped in, said Pascal Mousset of hotel and restaurant body GHR.

There are, however, similar waiters' races in several other French cities including Nantes, Grenoble and Dijon.


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