How to do elegant outdoor picnic with 17,000 people.
June is the best time to be in Paris with the entire city jazzed in summer mode via: La Fête de la Musique (Music Day), Prix de Diane (French Oak horse race,) and other events and festivals. The first one to kick off such stylish spirit is Dîner en Blanc (White Dinner) which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year at the Invalides monument. Here are some things you probably didn’t know about the best spontaneous event in France’s capital that welcomed 17,000 people on Sunday night.
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1. The origin.
The Dîner en Blanc idea was conceived by François Pasquier in 1988. He invited his friends to a beautiful outdoor dinner at Bois de Boulogne. 30 years later, the dapper event has spread to 70 cities around the world, with many travelers flying into Paris just to attend Dîner en Blanc each year.
2. The dress code.
From the start, Pasquier asked his friends to dress in white so they could easily find one another. Even today, you can’t attend the event if you’re not wearing white.
3. Invites only.
There aren’t tickets or online reservations involved with locking down a place at Dîner en Blanc. It’s completely through connections, word of mouth, and invites-only. If you’d like to go, you’ve got to know the right people. Most likely, the main organizers of the event.
4. Secret location.
It’s never revealed until the very last minute through series of text messages. It tends to be outdoor near a famous monument, making every year’s event the perfect photo op. In the past, masses of ivory have covered: The Eiffel Tower, Place Vendôme, Hôtel de Ville…etc.
Not only do you have to bring your own booze, this ain’t no normal picnic by the Seine. Participants typically come up with gourmet menus amongst friends, with 3 to 5-course meals to be devoured.
6. Elegant set up.
Fancy food comes with fancy set ups. It isn’t a restaurant, and there aren’t caterers. Everyone is expected to bring tables, chairs, white tablecloth, utensils, glassware…and more.
7. China only.
Meaning, no paper plates or plastic cups are allowed! Dîner en Blanc is all about keeping it real classy. This is the time to bust out porcelain tools and ceramic accessories.
8. Wine & champagne only.
Hard alcohol and beer are strictly forbidden during Dîner en Blanc. Stick to wines and champagne, you’ll be good to go!
9. No littering.
Participants are required to pick up litter after the event. So packing a few large garbage bags is highly recommended.
10. Midnight cut off.
Despite live orchestra and dance music pumping through loud speakers, the event officially ends at midnight. Just like Cinderella, once the clock strikes 12, you’re expected to leave the property and call it a night.
Photos: Wendy Hung