After a 13-year break, the "Course des cafés" was revived.

After a 13-year break, the "Course des cafés" was revived.
Screenshot Youtube © Le Parisien

"Course des café": Why waiters race through Paris

They are famous, notorious and apparently very fast: the Parisian waiters, who are in no way inferior to their Viennese counterparts, have revived their iconic race through the city for the first time in 13 years.

In Paris this year, a number of events are being repeated that have not taken place there for a very (very!) long time. The Summer Olympics, for example, which are being held in the French capital for the first time in 100 years. To celebrate the year, one particularly famous profession, that of Parisian waiters and waitresses, has brought a tradition back from the grave that is, at 110 years, even older.

Race without a race

At the "Course des cafés", the waiters and waitresses compete in a two-kilometer race through the city, from the Hôtel de Ville through Le Marais, with a croissant, an (empty) coffee cup and a glass of water on a round tray - without spilling anything, of course, and wearing only work clothes consisting of a white shirt with a black bottom. The race has not been held in the last 13 years and has now been revived as a promotional event for the Olympics. A total of over 200 waiters are said to have competed. Incidentally, they are not actually allowed to race. Just walk very (very!) fast.

"Grew up with a tray in my hand"

The fastest contestants were Pauline Van Wymeersch, who finished the women's race in 14 minutes and 12 seconds, and Samy Lamrous in the men's race. In addition to the obligatory medals, the prize was tickets for the opening of the games and a hotel voucher. For the victorious Van Wymeersch, who works at the café "Le Petit Pont" near Notredame, the job as a waitress is not just a passion with a pinch of love-hate, but a calling, as she explained to NBC News:

I love it as much as I hate it. It's in my bones. I can't help it. It is hard. It is exhausting. It is demanding. You work 12 hours a day. There are no weekends. There are no Christmas holidays. But it's part of my DNA. I grew up with a tray in my hand, so to speak.

She probably wouldn't trade it for anything. It is not yet clear whether the "Course des cafés" will be held again next year, without the Olympic Games. But it would definitely be an item for the ultimate Paris bucket list.


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Fee Louise Schwarz
Fee Louise Schwarz
Digital Redakteurin
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