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Waiters and waitresses race through streets of Paris for first time in 13 years ahead of Olympics | World News

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Waiters and waitresses have raced through the streets of the French capital for the first time in 13 years.

Balancing a tray with a croissant, coffee cup and glass of water, the fastest competitors from Paris’ cafes and bistros took to the start line on Sunday.

The 110-year-old event was held for the first time after a 13-year hiatus, and is being used to promote this summer’s Olympics held in the city.

Pic: AP
Waiters carry trays with a cup of coffee, a croissant and a glass of water as they take part in a waiter's run through the streets of Paris, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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Participants had to carry a tray with a croissant, empty cup of coffee, and glass of water during the race. Pic: AP

Historic croissant race returns to Paris after 13-year pause
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The historic race returned to Paris after a 13-year pause

The 1.25 mile-long (2km) race celebrated the agile men and women who make France’s cafes and bistros tick.

It took place along the streets of the historic Marais district, in a loop starting and finishing at City Hall.

Around 200 participants, dressed in their uniforms, loaded up their trays with a regulation pastry, a small but empty coffee cup and a full glass of water.

At the end of the race, they were judged on how much liquid they had spilled as well as their time.

Pauline Van Wymeersch and Samy Lamrous were crowned Paris’ fastest waitress and waiter.

Ms Van Wymeersch, the runaway winner in the women’s category in 14 minutes and 12 seconds, works at the Le Petit Pont cafe and restaurant facing the Notre Dame cathedral.

Pic: AP
Waiters carry trays with a cup of coffee, a croissant and a glass of water as they take part in a waiter's run through the streets of Paris, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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The race took place on Sunday. Pic: AP

Pic: AP
Waiters carry trays with a cup of coffee, a croissant and a glass of water as they take part in a waiter's run through the streets of Paris, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Image:
Pic: AP

She started waitering aged 16, and is now 34. She said she cannot envisage any other life for herself.

She added: “I love it as much as I hate it. It’s in my skin. I cannot leave it, It’s hard. It’s exhausting. It’s demanding. It’s 12 hours per day. It’s no weekends. It’s no Christmases.

“It’s part of my DNA. I grew up in a way with a tray in my hand. I have been shaped, in life and in the job, by the bosses who trained me and the customers, all of the people, I have met.”

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Pic: AP
Waiters carry trays with a cup of coffee, a croissant and a glass of water as they take part in a waiter's run through the streets of Paris, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Image:
Pic: AP

Mr Lamrous, who won the men’s race in a time of 13 minutes and 30 seconds, works at La Contrescarpe in Paris’ 5th district.

The two were rewarded with medals, two tickets each for the Olympic opening ceremony and a night out at a Paris hotel.

The capital’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said cafes and restaurants are “really the soul of Paris”.

She added: “The bistro is where we go to meet people, where we go for our little coffee, our little drink, where we also go to argue, to love and embrace each other.

“The cafe and the bistro are life.”

French waiters and waitresses can sometimes have a reputation for being abrupt and even moody, but Thierry Petit, 60, who is retiring next month after four decades in the profession, said: “French pride means that in little professions like this, they don’t want to be trampled on.”

“It’s not lack of respect, rather it’s more a state of mind,” he said. Switching to English, he added: “It’s very Frenchie.”

The race last took place in 2011 but stopped due to the lack of a sponsor. However, similar races have taken place in French towns and cities, such as Marseille, and other countries like Spain, since then.

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