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París 2024: Práctica con camareros que dan vida y carácter a la ciudad de París

Artículo informativo

Usain Bolt’s speed records were never in danger. The fastest human in the world might not be as fast while balancing a tray with a croissant, a cup of coffee, and a glass of water through the streets of Paris, without spilling it everywhere.

The capital of France revived a 110-year-old race for its waiters and waitresses on Sunday. The race celebrated men and women without whom the city would not be the same.

Why? Because they bring life to the cafes and restaurants of France. Without them, where would the French gather to have their rightful claim over drinks and meals? Where would they discuss and linger (or even end up) for love? And where else could they simply sit and let their minds wander?

Drum roll for Pauline Van Wymeersch and Samy Lamrous – recently crowned as the fastest waitress and waiter in Paris, and also as ambassadors of an essential French profession.

The revival of the waiter race after a 13-year absence is part of Paris' efforts to delight in the spotlight of the Olympic games and showcase its best in their first Summer Games in 100 years.

The first waiter race was held in 1914. This time, hundreds of waitresses and waiters put on their uniforms – with the finest sporty bow ties – and carried trays loaded with traditional posters, small (but empty) coffee cups, and glasses full of water for the 2-kilometer (1.25-mile) race starting and finishing at City Hall.

Van Wymeersch, the women’s race winner with a time of 14 minutes and 12 seconds, started as a waitress at 16 and now, at 34, said she couldn’t imagine a different life.

"I love it as much as I hate it. It’s in my skin. I can’t let it go," she said about her profession. "It’s tough, it’s exhausting. It’s demanding. It’s 12 hours a day. No weekends, no Christmases."

Van Wymeersch works at the café and restaurant Le Petit Pont, in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. Lamrous, who won the men’s race with a time of 13:30, serves at La Contrescarpe in the fifth district of Paris. Their prizes were medals, two tickets each to the Olympic Games opening ceremony along the Seine River, and a night of partying in a Paris hotel.

Although smiles abounded this time, participants acknowledged that is not always the case when they are in a rush at work. The customer might always be right in other countries, but in France, the waiter or waitress has the final say, feeding into their reputation of being tough, grumpy, and even rude at times.

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