Fastest Waiters in Paris Compete in ‘Coffee Run’ Street Race

The iconic Course des Cafes, a coffee race that began in Paris 110 years ago, returned to the French capital on Sunday. The event, which had not been held since 2011 due to budget issues, was revived to contribute to the spirit of athletic competition with the Olympics coming to town this year. Around 200 waiters took part in the race, which traverses a 2km (1.2-mile) route around Le Marais in central Paris. Competitors were required to wear a white top, black trousers, and a waiter’s apron, the traditional garb for Parisian waiters.

The dress code was meant to pay homage to the legendary historic race, and Paris Deputy Mayor Dan Lert, president of Eau de Paris, sponsored the race as part of a public relations campaign to encourage people to drink more tap water and consume fewer single-use plastic water bottles. The race starts and finishes at the Paris City Hall, an imposing Renaissance Revival building in the 4th arrondissement, close to the River Seine. Competitors must weave their way through some of the narrower streets of Le Marais district, one of the only parts of the city where the cramped alleys common to medieval Paris remain intact.

Racing waiters also have to contend with hordes of tourists visiting the Marais district, known for its elegant 17th-century mansions, the Picasso Museum, and writer Victor Hugo’s house. The district is also known for its boutique shops and famous falafel shops.

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