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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bastille Day: la Course des Garçons de Café

Today is le 14 juillet, which we anglophones know as "Bastille Day," the day the French commemorate the storming of the Bastille. The most common images that come out of Paris on this day are from the morning military parade, which is the oldest and largest of its type in Europe, not to mention the quintessential images of fireworks over the Eiffel Tower.

But have you seen the lighter side of Paris on La Fête Nationale?

Je vous présente: la Course des Garçons de Café, or "the Waiters' Race." 

(Pardon the somewhat "unique" narration style or this clip. 
I think you'll enjoy this quick peak at the race nonetheless.)

Completed in standard servers' attire while carrying a tray typically laden with water or champagne and glasses, servers were traditionally disallowed from running during this 5 mile race through Paris. Over the years, the race has evolved somewhat, but still retains its very distinct Parisian flavor.

Today, this jovial but competitive race is run in many cities in France, en effet (in fact) in many cities across the globe. And indeed it is no longer restricted to the 14th of July. In fact, the biggest running of the race is possibly the May event, sponsored by France's beloved Orangina soft drink. But autrefois (in other times), la Course des Garçons de Café was traditionally scheduled on, or very near, le 14 juillet. After all, what says "let's celebrate France" better than waiters trying to prove who's le top?

Bonne fête!

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