Hanging at the Café Flore, I spotted these dapper gents, wearing their formal garb on the streets. You don’t often see waiters just strolling the streets of Paris, because they change at the office. Cafés have underground lockers and these guys change just below you feet as you saunter on by. When they’re not at work, they blend in with the crowd, sporting unremarkable civilian wear. These penguins were cooling it on their break.

A week later, I spotted them again, this time having infinitely more fun, oggling the ladies as the pass. I’m not sure if this garçon* went back to serving after the lovely lady in red came his way, or if he had to got to the medecin de travail for whip lash!

But these group sightings are actually fairly uncommon. Waiters are on their feet dealing with colleagues and their customers all day, so on break, they often like to steal off on their own for a bit, enjoying a peaceful, solitary nicotine fix…


Or calling their damsel in distress, dealing with family matters, making medical appointments, placing bets at the races, and doing just about everything else regular folk do from the office. Only they do it on their feet, with a potential crowd and cars zooming by.

It is a lot of work, requiring balance, diplomacy, a fairly decent memory. and some considerable math skills. Watching the tables and joking around helps them get through the day with their good humour and sanity in tact.

And even on their break, these quintessential Parisian gentlemen are happy to give passers by the time of day.


*garçon – by now pretty much the entire planet knows not to use the term garçon, although I have noticed that certain Québecois visitors find it rather amusing and use the term as a joke, which always fails to make the waiters laugh.

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