Friendship, gastronomy, elegance, magic: Diner en Blanc Paris is the chic-est annual gathering the world has ever seen. It is the pique-nique of pique-niques. A giant sea of laughing faces and popping champagne corks.
A magical night: Le Dîner en Blanc celebrated 30 years in 2018
On June 3rd 2018 the world’s biggest organized pop-up picnic, the exclusive Dîner en Blanc – Dinner in White, toasted its 30th anniversary in Paris. On this occasion it opened the doors for the first time to the international community.
The rules are simple: everyone must dress in white from head to toe. Elegance is essential and originality a plus.
Arriving by two’s, guests bring their own gourmet picnics, table decorations such as candles and flowers. Again, everything – from the table and chairs to dishes – must be white. No plastic or paper dishes and utensils allowed, and hard alcohol and beer are strictly forbidden. And no T-shirts, colorful sports shoes, baseball caps or shorts. Participants are required to pick up all of their litter when everything wraps up around midnight, leaving the site as if no one was ever there.
The location is kept secret until almost the last minute when a series of texts is sent out to thousands all over the city who’ve been waiting in patient anticipation. And that’s when suddenly, from seemingly out of nowhere, people toting baskets and tables behind them begin to converge on the designated spot. On this evening, many arrived on foot, and from all directions. Some spilled out of large coaches, others from private cars, limos, taxis and ubers. Some straddled motorcycles, their supplies strapped behind them. Others skate-boarded in, all happily headed towards the same destination. As every year, not even the authorities had been let in on where it would be. 2018’s surprise location: the magnificent esplanade of the Hôtel des Invalides.
How did Diner en Blanc begin?
It all began in the 1980s when founder and organiser Francois Pasquier, returned to France from Tahiti with his family, wanted to celebrate with friends and decided to host a picnic in Paris’ vast Bois de Boulogne. To make it easier to find each other, everyone agreed to dress completely in white. It was such a success that they decided to repeat it the following year, and the next… and eventually, the guest list exceeded more than one thousand.
On the anniversary, 30 years later, a record turnout – 17,000 people; 6,000 from the international community, celebrated, quite literally, in style.
Now held in cities the world over, the Dîner en Blanc is a unique event that pays homage to beauty, conviviality, friendship, and taste.
Vive Le Dîner en Blanc!
Barbara Pasquet James is a U.S. lifestyle editor, speaker, and urban explorer who writes about food fashion and culture, from Paris. She is known for helping launch, write and edit USA Today’s City Guide To Paris and can be contacted via her photo blog FocusOnParis.com