Diner En Blanc; The “chicest” do-it- yourself picnic in the world
I would love to invite you to a very chic outdoor picnic. Dress in the most glamorous white outfit you can find, bring the best meal you can cook and bring the best wine you know. Oh, by the way, you need to bring your own table, your own chairs and I can’t tell you where it is until 1 hour before. Hope to see you there!
Wait, what? Why would I want to attend this? Well, for those of you not familiar with this glamorous “do-it-yourself” extravaganza many might pass on this invitation. Why would I dirty my best white attire and lug my own tables across town? For this reason; bragging rights to the most speculator white soiree you have ever seen. After 26 years, people are begging to carry their own tables and chairs to be invited and pay for this exclusive event.
The affair that started in Paris with a small group of friends, is now celebrated in 16 cities all over the world and people pay good money for their ticket. Why would you buy a ticket if you are bringing all your own materials? The costs contribute to the extensive lighting, sound system, firework displays and organization that goes into coordinating such a large event. For the events not centrally located, there is also bus transportation that will take you to the “secret” spot. Honestly though, you are truly paying for ambience and well, bragging rights.
Here in Paris, there are no tickets available for purchase, it’s on a “who you know” bases. And in 2014, as the world watched the first game of the World Cup last Thursday, Paris watched exclusive attendees enjoy only the finest wines and French cuisine at sunset. The picnic has become so exclusive in Paris that all 10,000 attendees are by invite only.
Assuming a “secret location” meant a discreet park in the outer banks of the city, I expected not to see any Paris monuments in site. Come to find out every year the party’s “secret location”, that is revealed 1 hour before the event, is at one of the top touristic locations in the city. This year being no different, Pont Alexandre and six other bridges along the Seine were covered with giant cotton white blankets of Diner en Blanc attendees. Not the most secret location!
Traffic on the Pont Alexandre bridge came to a complete stop as tourists and local motorists halted to snap photos of the thousands in white. From the grass at Invalides to the sidewalks of Pont Alexandre, Parisians dressed their tables with fine white linens, silver candelabras and beautifully bloomed white flowers. Passing tourists gawked at the different themed costumes, overflowing displays of caviar, escargot, foie gras and of course, bubbly. I could not help and think, how could anyone not just setup a table too? There are so many people, how would they possibly notice?
My friend, who attend the event in Singapore, went on to explain to me the controlled system they have in place. Though it may not seem like security is present, it is. The obvious policeman were there but among the sea of white, there are coordinators carefully placing attendees, ensuring no crashers try to blend in.
As for myself, we were lucky enough to be at Pont Alexandre when the moon rose and the sun set for this spectacular site. By far it was one of the most picturesque moments I have had in Paris. Though as I anxiously await my invitation for next year’s exclusive picnic, before then, I will be preparing my most glamorous white outfit and begin the hunt for next year’s “secret yet not so secret” location.
If you would like to attend the event in a city nearest you, here is the site for more information, http://www.dinerenblanc.info