Life & StyleTravel

Paris to be transformed into white-themed outdoor picnic

On Thursday night, thousands of elegantly dressed Parisians clad head to toe in white will transform an iconic site in the City of Light into an outdoor pop-up restaurant.

This year marks the 27th edition of Diner en Blanc, a phenomenon in which about 10,000 diners dressed in their gleaming white Sunday best, will descend on the city and within minutes transform an outdoor space into a giant restaurant terrace.

With impressive choreography, rows of tables are set up with military precision and topped with bouquets of fresh flowers, ornate candelabras, gold-gilded plates and silverware — plastic cutlery and paper plates are unequivocally forbidden.

And while the location is kept top secret until about half an hour before the start of the event, there are few iconic sites in the city that haven’t hosted an impromptu Diner en Blanc event.

Last year, participants stopped traffic and overtook the bridges of Paris. In 2013, one half of participants dined under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, while the other half made themselves at home at the Pyramide du Louvre.

In years past, the event has also been held in front of the Notre-Dame de Paris, Place Concorde and Place Vendome.


Local police, meanwhile, turn a blind eye to the event, in part because of strict rules imposed by organizers: As quickly as the dinner is set up, guests must likewise dismantle the site by midnight, leaving no trace of their existence, taking their garbage with them.

What started out as a small, modest affair in 1988 for a group of Parisian gourmands looking to dine out al fresco-style has turned into an international phenomenon in recent years, catching on in cities like New York, Montreal, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Cape Town.

But as the birthplace of Diner en Blanc, an invite to the flagship event in Paris is the most coveted.

And unlike other editions, participating in the Parisian event isn’t simply about signing up and paying a fee. Guests must be co-opted or sponsored in order to participate.

In other words, they have to ‘know someone.’

Parisians celebrating while dressed in white.

For tourists and visitors, meanwhile, the event provides a hundred photo opportunities and perhaps one of the best people-watching experiences in the city, with parades of beautiful Parisians in elegant, wide-brimmed hats, dainty lace gloves and three-piece suits in varying shades of white, ecru and beige.

At coordinated moments throughout the night, guests will likewise rise en masse waving their white napkins in the air, and come nightfall, light up the skies with sparklers.

This year's Diner en Blanc Paris takes place June 11. The event has also been exported to more than 40 cities around the world.

For international cities and dates, visit

Can't attend? Filmmaker Jennifer Ash will take you to the event in her documentary "Diner en Blanc: The World's Largest Dinner Party," available on iTunes.

Parisians celebrating while dressed in white.

Related Articles

Back to top button