A Pop-Up Picnic ~ the secret Dinner in White is a refined flash-mob feast!
Launched with just a handful of friends in France, the ultimate picnic-chic dinner party celebrated the 25th year of the Diner en Blanc tradition at the Trocadéro and Louvre in Paris. Guests wear white and the venue is not revealed until the last minute. The Diner en Blanc tradition that has now spread worldwide.
People, all dressed up head to toe in white, enjoy al fresco dining on china plates and bottles of champagne to toast Diner en Blanc’s birthday at the Trocadero square in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The All White Night rules are:
Attendance is by invite only and guests are only told the illustrious location an hour before dinner starts.
They must arrive by public transport, bring a guest and
be dressed all in white with a picnic table, wine and food.
Eat to the beat: A band entertains diners eating al fresco in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
It’s a tradition going back a quarter of a century, but really not one where you want to spill the red wine. Thousands of foodies dressed from head to toe in sparkling white converged on Paris last night to quaff champagne and eat fine foods together as the annual Diner en Blanc celebrated its 25th birthday.
Diners, who had signed up for the event were kept in the dark as to the location of the giant dinner party right up until the last minute, but were told to make their way to either the Trocadéro or the grounds of the Louvre via email earlier in the evening.
Within the hour, row upon row of picnic tables – complete with white table cloths – were set up, wine was uncorked and revellers began sharing food at the spectacular event. Guests enjoyed their dinner against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower and the city’s most iconic museum until midnight, when they pack up their rubbish and leave.
The tradition began in 1988 when a group of ten friends decided they wanted to eat at a forbidden spot in the French capital. They dined as a 200 strong flash mob at the Jardins de Bagatelle, a favourite spot of French royalty including Marie Antoinette.
Since then the event has gone global with versions of the dinner taking place in European cities such as Milan and Barcelona and much further afield in more than a dozen locations in the US, Canada, Singapore and even Rwanda and the Ivory Coast. The craze finally made the short journey from its Paris home across the Channel to London only last September when thousands of diners converged on the South Piazza of Covent Garden.
The Paris version remains the tradition’s definitive one. Each year the guest list exceeds 15,000 say organisers and past dinners have taken place at such illustrious settings as the Pont des Arts, the grounds of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles.
- Guests at both venues would have either had to have attended the last Paris event or been invited by someone who did. Everyone who is invited must bring a guest and arrive by public transport.
- Guests must bring a picnic table, a picnic basket, foldable cheers and a table cloth – all in white of course.
- Men and women sit on opposite sides of the table to one another and guests are forbidden to sit down until their entire row have set up their table.
- No excuses: if you are invited, don’t let a double booking or inclement weather put you off – if you fail to turn up or don’t abide by the events rules then you won’t be invited back.
Launched by François Pasquier and his close friends 25 years ago, Paris’ Dîner en Blanc now brings together over 10,000 people each year in some of the most prestigious locations throughout the French capital.
In the summer of 1988, Pasquier had just returned to Paris after a few years abroad and held a dinner party to reconnect with friends. So many wished to attend that he asked them to convene at Bois de Boulogne dressed in white, so as to be recognizable to one another. Each attendee was also asked to bring a friend. The evening was such a hit that guests wanted more friends to join-in the following year and thus was born the concept of Dîner en Blanc.
In June 1991, four years after the event’s debut, the founding group of friends decided to organize their Dîner in one of the French capital’s most beautiful locations, Pont des Arts, in the heart of Paris (a first). Knowing fully well that local authorities would never allow such an event to take place there, keeping the location a secret until the very last minute was crucial to the success of the event.
Following in his François Pasquier’s footsteps, one of his sons, Aymeric Pasquier, moved to Montreal and kept the family tradition going when he came together with friends to hold the first Dîner en Blanc in August of 2009. In 2011, Aymeric partnered-up with Sandy Safi to launch the first American Dîner en Blanc in New York. The United States held its first Dîner en Blanc in New York on August 25th, 2011. That evening, 1,200 diners (selected from over 30,000 hopefuls) celebrated outdoors at a yet-to-be-disclosed location amid live music and dancing, with festive white balloons and sparklers. Guests, dressed in elegant white, brought their own epicurean feasts, tables, chairs, glasses, silver and white napery.
Aymeric Pasquier and Sandy Safi then came together to create Dîner en Bland International, a Dîner en Blanc organization that would promote the history and philosophy of this event through hosts worldwide, and create an international network of diners and Dîner en Blanc enthusiasts. With over a dozen cities having joined the Dîner en Blanc family in 2012, what began (and remains in Paris) as a “friends and word-of-mouth only” event has grown into an international epicurean phenomenon across five continents.
Though the technology behind the event may have changed over the years, the principles fuelling this fantastic event have not; diners continue to gather at a secret location with the sole purpose of sharing a high-quality meal with good friends at the heart of one of the city’s most beautiful locations. Dîner en Blanc International, based in Montreal, is responsible for developing this secret posh picnic in nearly 40 cities by the end of 2013.
Each event is headed by passionate local organisers whom fell in love with the concept and wanted to bring it to their city and add their local flair, yet respecting the event’s core values all the while.