French waiters have their own Olympics!

Well, it's a race, but I like calling it that.

Ever wondered with amazement at how nimbly waiters move about between tables? Especially with those dense Parisian cafe layouts, table against circular table, chairs placed askew, pigeons presumably underfoot. And at those tables sit patrons with their feet out, hands languidly holding cigarettes, gesticulating wildly, spilling out ash everywhere. All this, waiters have to navigate daily, all the while balancing drinks, food, silverware on thin little discs. You've seen this largely unappreciated dance and thought, this artform belongs in a museum! Or at least thought that these waiters' remarkable spryness should land them a spot in the Olympics or something. Or, you've thought nothing at all on the subject, I don't know. I have no idea what other people think about.

Anyway, there is an Olympics for waiter-ing. It's called the Course des Cafés (cafe race) and it's a sight to see. Donning their traditional white pressed shirt, apron and black pants, contestants hold a tray bearing a croissant, a coffee and a glass of water in one hand. They have to make it across Paris' historic Marais district without spilling a drop or letting a flake fall, and with no running. Historic is the word to keep in mind, here. Those streets are cobblestone, they don't follow a grid, and though the city parts the seas a little beforehand, the area is absolutely thronged with people.

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."

Kim Willsher, The Guardian

All this, and still no tips.