Another Reason to Visit Paris, France: The Waiters Race is Back in Honor of the Olympics

Cafe Race in Paris, France in March 2024
Cafe Race in Paris, France in March 2024. Photo by Prezat Denis/ABACA/Shutterstock (14400192j)

The Course des Cafés, aka the waiters’ race, is a historical race that dates back to 1914. This year it made its much-anticipated return all in the spirit of the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

For years, the waiters and waitresses of Paris—often dubbed as the garçons de café—have been the unsung heroes of the city’s vibrant dining scene. Renowned for their impeccable memory, swift service, and occasional sharp wit, these professionals have mastered the ballet of balancing trays.

This year’s race was a grand display of speed, balance, and finesse. About 200 of the city’s most adept servers donned their traditional black-and-white attire and took to the historic Marais district.

The course was anything but simple. Each competitor carried a tray in one hand, balancing a cup of coffee, a glass of water, and a croissant. All while briskly walking through two kilometers of Paris’s famed cobbled streets. The rule was clear: no running and no drop or crumb could be spared.

As the city prepares to welcome athletes and visitors from around the world, this event stands as a reminder of the unique cultural experiences that await them, all served with the unmatched skill and flair of Paris’s finest.