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No. 275: Dîner en Blanc

diîner-en-blanc-paris.jpgOn my way home from the Eurostar last night I found myself smack dab in the middle of the twenty-sixth annual dîner en blanc. This pop-up dining event secretly planned and held al fresco in a predetermined place which is kept secret from attendees until a few moments before it begins, is definitely on my bucket list of things I hope some day to be invited to.

This year’s by-invitation-only-soirée took place over six bridges throughout Paris. Dressed in all white and eating only white food (no vin rouge allowed), over 12,000 people participated in this posh version of a flash mob.

From talking to friends who have been a guest at this feast in the past, dîner en blanc seems to be a highly codified event. There are “team leaders” who are responsible for the invitation, organization and behavior of each small group. In addition to the white dress code, white food, and white wine or champagne (beer and spirits are prohibited), you must also bring your own table and chairs (white, bien sûr), white tablecloths, and dishes. Some diners go as far as bringing white flowers in vases, candles, and center pieces. The most important rule is that everyone disappears before midnight and leaves their dining site undamaged and spotless—under threat of being blacklisted for the following year’s festivities.

Last night there were lots of extravagant white hats and pearl-buttoned gloves, and when the Eiffel Tower sparkled, the revelers did too—producing long sparklers lit up on cue like synchronized swimmers in an old MGM film.


It is an elegant affair, and possibly the one-and-only time of the year that you will encounter so many happy, smiling and relaxed Parisians. Furrowed brows, downturned lips and icy stares, all disappear for a joyous but respectful evening. It is also the only day of the year that Parisians stow away their all-black wardrobes and slip into something brighter, whiter and lighter.

It is a lovely change. Hmmm…maybe dîner en blanc ought to be a monthly event?



al fresco: in the open air

dîner en blanc: white dinner, dinner in white

vin rouge: red wine



13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Caroline B #

    Hmm Nancy, how can we get invited? Something ‘a creuser’!

    June 13, 2014
  2. That would be a fantastic thing to do in New Year’s Eve. But what about the food? Do people have to bring their own too? If so I’d call this a white fancy picnic.

    June 13, 2014
    • Yes. People bring their own food, but the fun is that it has to be white. It can’t be colorful. People go all out and come up with very fancy and delicious options.

      June 13, 2014
  3. Thank you so much for sharing. I was super curious as to why I saw so many people dressed in white holding tables!

    June 15, 2014
  4. cami welsh #

    How fun. I’d love to try something like this here at home.

    June 16, 2014
    • You should organize one—the one in Paris started very small, and it has grown. It is very well organized, secret, and very respectful in terms of alcohol consumption and cleaning up after themselves. Would be super fun to do, n’est pas? x

      June 18, 2014
  5. JustReality101 #

    Leave it to the French, they have good imagination I notice that every time I go back home. I was in Paris just about a month ago. I am french and still feel like part of me is missing since I live in the US. It has been many years…39!

    July 11, 2014
    • I’m sure there are many things you miss about France. I’ve only been here for 3 years and in some ways I feel more at home here than I ever did in America.

      July 11, 2014
      • JustReality101 #

        That’s amazing, you must really love it there! It is a beautiful country that I must admit! I miss my Family the most, I have 6 siblings who love there, no one moved here except for me. May your transition be smooth and your last year in France be a real treat

        July 12, 2014
      • Merci bien!

        July 12, 2014
      • JustReality101 #

        Je vous en prie êta bientôt

        July 12, 2014

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