There’s something about Paris that just exudes sophistication. If there’s one event that embodies this air of total chicness, it has to be Diner en Blanc.
Perhaps you have heard of the Diner en Blanc phenomenon: it’s been happening for more than 26 years and now takes place in cities throughout the world. There might even be one near you!
If you’ve ever attended a Diner en Blanc, it should come as no surprise to you that this memorable soiree—spontaneous, yet meticulously planned down to the last detail, and above all, totally refined—originating in the City of Lights.
A Dinner Party Like No Other
Diner en Blanc started off as a slightly atypical dinner party. In 1988, a Parisian named François Pasquier had spent a few years abroad and decided to host a dinner party upon his return. He had so many people to catch up with, that holding it in his home didn’t make sense, logistically. Instead, he told his guests to meet at Bois de Boulogne and to dress in white, to allow the guests to find one another.
The Bois de Boulogne
Bois de Boulogne, the second largest park in Paris, seemed like a natural place to host the first Diner en Blanc. The park is located along the edge of Paris’ 16th arrondissement, a cultured area favored among high society. It’s also two and a half times larger than Central Park—hence the need to wear white to find one another!
Moving to the Pont des Arts—and Towards Secrecy
After four years in the Bois de Boulogne, the diners—a group that had expanded since the inaugural event—decided to switch to a new location, the Pont des Arts. Located in the center of Paris, this beautiful bridge is infamous for the padlocks left behind by thousands of lovers, symbolizing permanence in love.
Though a romantic backdrop, the group knew that authorities would put a halt to the event in such a public place—so they decided to keep the location a secret until the last possible moment. They had guests gather in a meeting place, and only then did the organizers reveal where the dinner would be held. That tradition of secrecy is still held at events today—the element of the unknown only adds to the fun!
Moving Beyond Paris
When one of François Pasquier’s sons moved to Montreal, Canada in 2009, he decided to take the Diner en Blanc tradition with him. The vibrant French city seemed like a natural fit for the event. This was the beginning of the colonization of the Diner en Blanc. Two years later in 2011, the first American Diner en Blanc would take place in New York City.
Being in the Know
At that very first Diner en Blanc event, Mr. Pasquier had instructed each guest to bring along one friend. You had to know someone who knew someone to get in on the event.
That exclusive air remains at today’s Diner en Blanc events. Hopeful attendees need to register for the event, and only if they are picked will they receive details about the gathering place. Priority is given to those who have attended past events, and to those who have been extended a personal invite by past attendees.
To give you a better sense, consider that 30,000 people registered for NYC’s first Diner en Blanc—but only 1,200 were extended an invite!
Going to Diner en Blanc
If you’re curious about attending this infamous whitewashed spontaneous dinner party held in spectacular parks throughout the world, check out the Diner en Blanc International website and register for a potential spot. Don’t forget to play along by the rules (which include donning classy white attire and bringing your own white table settings and gourmet fare)—that’s what creates the mystical ambience!