The Place Vendome in Paris was a sea of white on Wednesday evening as diners took part in the Diner en Blanc (Dinner in White). Over 7,000 people were part of the classy, well-dressed and well prepared mob who showed up to the exclusive event in the French capital.
Like the spin-offs that have been held yearly in areas such as Shanghai, Mumbai and Stockholm, the venue was a closely guarded secret. With picnic baskets and linen napkins at the ready, the participants are to ensure that they “conduct themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette”. Guests are also required to leave the venue at the stroke of midnight and ensure that the venue goes back to the way it was before the dinner began.
The concept is not a new one, having started in 1988 by Francois Pasquier. The French Businessman had dreamt of eating out in the open in unconventional places, thus giving birth to the first Diner en Blanc at Bois de Boulogne Park in Paris. Today, the event has spread to 70 other cities and continues to grow. Previous venues to have hosted the secretive upper-crust club of food lovers, include the Champs-Elysees, Chateau de Versailles as well as the gardens under the Eiffel Tower.
To attend the soirees, one must first be invited — making this all the more enticing. Only people invited by Diner en Blanc members can attend the gatherings, which are run with almost military precision, with guests and authorities only alerted to the precise venue at the last minute.