The fastest waiters in Paris compete in the ‘fast coffee’ competition | Art and Culture


Paris, France – One of Paris’ most famous districts was flooded with white-shirted waiters carrying trays of coffee and croissants as the Course des Cafes (“coffee race”) returned to the French capital on Sunday.

The competition, which began in Paris 110 years ago, sees waiters racing each other while carrying traditional French trays.

The event has not been held since 2011 due to budget constraints. But with the Olympics coming to town this year, the city of Paris decided to revive the event to help the spirit of the race.

“Jumping between tables and delivering orders in time without losing a plate – it’s a game,” the city said.

Thousands of people gathered to watch around 200 waiters take part in the competition, which covers a 2km (1.2-mile) route around Le Marais in central Paris. Without rushing, each waiter has to reach the end while balancing the tray with a glass of water, a cup of coffee and a croissant – without wasting anything.

The contestants were required to wear a white top, black trousers and a waiter’s apron, the traditional attire of Parisian waiters. The costumes were created to “pay homage to this famous race”, said Paris Deputy Mayor Dan Lert.

Lert is the president of Eau de Paris. The charity sponsored the competition as part of a campaign to encourage people to drink tap water and use fewer single-use plastic bottles.

The race starts and ends at Paris City Hall, an impressive Renaissance Revival building in the 4th arrondissement, near the River Seine. Competitors must make their way through the narrow streets of Le Marais district, one of the only parts of the city where the narrow streets that can be found in Paris during the Middle Ages.

Runners also have to contend with the crowds of tourists who come to see the Marais, a popular tourist destination for its beautiful 17th-century buildings, the Picasso Museum and the home of writer Victor Hugo.

The district is also known for its shopping malls and, due to its origins in the Jewish Quarter after the French Revolution, there are also several famous falafel shops.

The winners of the women’s and men’s competitions, ⁠Pauline Van Wymeersch and ⁠Samy Lamrous, were each awarded tickets to the opening ceremony of this summer’s Olympics. Some of the best finishers received gift cards to restaurants around the city.



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