Paris Waiters Race

Written by on August 27, 2013 in French Icons, Quirky

paris waiters race

Nobody quite knows the exact roots of the “waiters race” but all agree its origins are from the culture of France and the most famous of them all is the Paris Waiters Race says Janine Marsh, admirer of the sport of the racing waiters…

paris waiters race

The pastime known as “Course des Garcons de Café” or the “Waiters Race” as it is in English can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th Century but may be quite a bit older. It is thought to have originated in Paris as an event to showcase the professional talents of waiters and the Paris Waiters Race is certainly the most well known of them all! Just the sound of this intriguing event conjures up images of sleek haired chaps in long white aprons, jaunty bow ties starkly contrasting with starched, bright white shirts, shiny black shoes and the uniquitous round wooden tray, laden with bottles and glasses as they dash through the streets, over cobble stones and up and down stairs, cheered on by a vastly entertained crowd.

It was a race event organised to showcase the talents of waiters as professionals and is known to have taken place across Europe by the early 1900s.

paris waiters raceTraditionally it was organised to take place on Bastille Day but these days, you’ll find a Waiters Race going on globally throughout the year.

To see a Waiters Race is to appreciate a rather quirky, fun and whimsical sporting event.

Appropriately dressed participants – in full waiter and waitress gear, line up at the start line balancing a tray in one hand.

On the tray will be placed at least one full bottle of liquid of some sort and some glasses which may also be filled with liquid. The intrepid sportsman or woman must run a designated course, past throngs of cheering fans and get to the finishing line without spilling a drop and without dropping a glass.

paris waiters raceThe Waiters Race website states that today, the race has been exported around the world and attracts thousands of people every year, coming out to support “their” Garçon de café. The race exists in all five continents and adapts itself to the local customs of the respective area. In South America for example, races include obstacles. In China and Spain, races take place on the shores of sunny beaches. In Australia, they are organized in the small streets of a market. In Iceland, races are held on a lush green lawn in a park… and in Scandinavia, the race takes place on a cruise ship.

The whacky races go on all over France and around the world – the Waiters Race website keeps a listing for races if you’d like to go and join in the fun!

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