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Waiters race for glory as Paris revives century-old tradition

Some 200 aproned competitors took their places on the starting blocks Sunday for a tradition that goes back more than a hundred years: the Paris waiters' race.

Intended to showcase waiters' talent with a tray, the 2km race saw contestants make their way from Paris city hall through the narrow streets of the Marais and back again – all while singlehandedly carrying a glass of water, a cup of coffee and a croissant.

Samy Lamrous was the fastest male entrant, completing the course in 13 minutes and 30 seconds, while Pauline Van Wymeersch was the speediest woman with a time of 14 minutes and 12 seconds.

Time penalties were imposed for spills, with judges waiting at the finish line to assess the state of each participant's tray.

Running was not permitted. Instead waiters were expected to cover the course at a brisk walk – the maximum speed at which you'd expect to see one arrive at your table.

Carrying the tray with two hands resulted in automatic disqualification.

Paris revival

It's the first time since 2011 that the race has returned to Paris, the city where it was invented.

Historians have traced the first edition back to 1914, when it was conceived as a way to promote Parisian cafes and the skills of those who worked in them.

Previous participants had to cover as much as 10km past some of the city's most famous monuments, including a stretch down the Champs-Élysées.

The contents of the tray have also varied over the years, ranging from a full bottle of wine or spirits to a carafe of water and three glasses.

In Paris, though, the race died out 13 years ago for lack of sponsorship.


Read more on RFI English

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