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Paris crowns champion waiters in 'cafe race'

March 24, 2024

Waiters carried a tray with a coffee, croissant and glass of water for two kilometers across Paris streets, making sure they did not spill a drop.

The winner of La course des cafes — The cafe race — raises his fist in celebration
Service professionals had to navigate Paris streets with a tray in handImage: Berzane Nasser/ABACA/IMAGO

Hundreds of waiters raced through the streets of Paris on Sunday, bidding to become champion garcon in the Course des Cafes (cafe race).

To prove their prowess as industry professionals, competitors had to race while carrying a tray with a croissant, espresso and glass of water. If a crumb or drop were spilt, they would be disqualified.

Waiters and waitresses at the start line
The race began looping around the Paris City Hall, before crossing part of the Marais, the historic district in the French capitalImage: Berzane Nasser/ABACA/IMAGO

Men's winner Samy Lamrous and speedy waitress Pauline van Wymeersch won their respective events, both held across two kilometers (1.24 miles) in the French capital. Lamrous reached the end line in 13 minutes 30 seconds while Van Wymeersch came first in 14 minutes and 12 seconds.

What ingredients do you need to be a Course des Cafe winner?

"We do this for 12 hours every day, including weekends and holidays," Van Wymeersch, who works at cafe Le Petit Pont a few hundred metres (yards) from city hall, explained to the news agency AFP.

A line of racing waiters and waitresses with a tray in hand
Over 250 waiters and waitresses took part in the raceImage: Prezat Denis/ABACA/IMAGO

And what's the secret to her success? "Twenty years on the job and good legs", she said.

In addition to medals and bragging rights, the two competitors also won a night's stay in a stylish hotel.

The waitresses and waiter runner, dressed for the occasion according to the traditional codes of Parisian bistro service
Contestants wore typical French cafe attireImage: Berzane Nasser/ABACA/IMAGO

"Congratulations to everyone who took part," the city water authority Eau de Paris, which sponsored the event, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

A jury was waiting for the contestants at the finish line to check the conditions of the food and beverages to make sure it was all still intact.

jsi/dj (AFP, AP)