Sacre bleu – Course des Cafés

Visitors to central Paris were treated on Sunday to the sight of hundreds of aproned waiters surging through the mediaeval streets, in a one-of-a-kind race designed to show off the profession months ahead of the Olympic Games. Hundreds of spectators lined the route or applauded from roadside cafe tables as the servers, jaws clenched, piloted their trays through the streets, seeking to keep the precious cargo intact. Joshing as they went, some pulled off acrobatic movements with their trays as they slipped through a gap to overtake. Participants and politicians wanted to draw attention to the shortage of people working in the hospitality industry. First staged in 1914, the “course des garcons de cafe” (cafe waiters’ race) was held on Sunday for the first time since 2011 — four months before the city hosts the Olympics in July and August. With the dismissive “garcon” (“boy”) rarely used to refer to waiters nowadays, the challenge was re-baptized this year as the “course des cafes” or “cafes race”. Unlike their Lycra-clad Olympic counterparts, the waiters wore white shirts, dark trousers and aprons provided by the organizers.

The event was also used to highlight a lack of staff in the capital’s hotel-restaurant sector. Stéphane Counelakis, a director at the LIPP brasserie, said the race was a way of promoting a profession “that for me is extraordinary.” Nicolas Bonnet Oulaldj, a deputy city mayor in charge of trade, said: “The relaunch of this race … is aimed at promoting the excellence of French-style service in Parisian bistros and cafes, which is part of our capital’s intangible cultural heritage.” He added: “The city is delighted to welcome back this race, which will remain a legacy of the Paris 2024 Olympics, as the start will be given on the square in front of the Hôtel de Ville, from where the Olympic marathon will start.”

Men’s winner Samy Lamrous and top waitress Pauline Van Wymeersch walked the two-kilometre (1.2-mile) route in 13 minutes 30 seconds and 14 minutes 12 seconds respectively — each carrying a tray with a croissant, espresso and glass of water. “We do this for 12 hours every day, including weekends and holidays,” said Van Wymeersch, who works at cafe Le Petit Pont a few hundred metres (yards) from city hall. Her race-winning secret was “20 years on the job and good legs”, she told AFP. A jury was waiting at the finish line to judge both contestants’ times and how much of their beverages might have slopped over an unbalanced rim. “My thighs are a bit strained but it’s mostly a question of concentration,” said Lamrous. “You have to keep it balanced with all these people cheering you on. In the end, I managed to come back from behind, Paris style,” he added of his first-place victory. All the medalist waiters will be invited to the Olympics opening ceremony on July 26.

Serving Paris fun 

Waiter: I see your glass is empty, would you like another one?
Me: Why would I want two empty glasses?

I told the waiter my fish was dry.
The waiter said they had to take it out of the water.

An American tourist in Paris is standing near the Eiffel tower, scratching his head.

He says to his wife, “I don’t get it. This is the third time in our lives that we’ve visited Paris and they still haven’t found any oil here.”

Customer: Waiter, I’m in a hurry! Will the pancakes be long?
Waiter: No sir, round.

March 25th Birthdays

1982 – Jenny Slate, 1982 – Danica Patrick, 1965 – Sarah Jessica Parker, 1947 – Aretha Franklin

1947 – Elton John, 1979 – Lee Pace, 1982 – Sean Faris, 1995 – Justin Prentice

Morning Motivator: