Not with P-Diddy, but just as fabulous? The Paris Dîner en Blanc or The White Party, an invite-only secret dinner party descends upon a different and very public location each year: The Arc de Triomphe, Concorde, The Invalides…It’s so secret in fact, that even those connected by blood to the organizers do not know. The location is announced upon boarding pre-arranged buses that take the invitees to the dinner spot. Everyone must wear white, bring dinner in a picnic basket, chairs, table and champagne. You exchange food and dates (temporarily) with those around you.
From those interested in the history in 1988, the first official Dîner en Blanc took place in the Parc de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne, started by a man named François Pasquier, who invited a few friends to the Bois de Boulogne one day in June on his return to France after being abroad. To find each other in the park, they all wore white. The dinner was such a success that they decided the next year, each person would invite some other friends and the event grew organically into the 10000+ dinner it is today.
Until 1991, the venue remained the same but numbers quickly escalated from 200 initially to 400, to 800 in 1990 and 1,200 in 1991. By 1992, it was necessary to conceal the location of the dinner and the current process of using point-people to coordinate a batch of tables and provide transportation to the event began. Here’s a rundown of the locations of the Dîner en Blanc from its inception to today
From a preservation perspective, we have always been impressed by the progressive view the Parisian government has on the usage of venerated architecture, permitting large electro parties to happen in the Grand Palais and other formal institutions. The police no longer try to break up the Dîner en Blanc, but we still think it reflects the spirit of Paris and its constant reinvention of history on already storied locations. It also raises an interesting question about preservation: do we over-protect historic buildings in America, thereby preventing the current generation from putting their imprint on the spaces? Perhaps preservation should also mean participation.
Here’s a look back to the prior locations of the Paris Diner en Blanc!
2016: Place Vendome
Photo by Aymeric Pasquier
The 2016 Dîner en Blanc brought the pop-up dinner to a location that had not worked out due to construction back in 2012 for the 25th anniversary: the Place Vendôme.
2015: Palais Royal
The dinner was located in the Palais Royal, with a rival unofficial dinner wrought havoc on the Louvre…
2014: Bridges of the Seine and the Invalides
In 2014, the dinner took over the bridges of the Seine and the Invalides.
2013: Trocadero with View of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre
In 2013, the Paris Dîner en Blanc took place in two locations: at Trocadero, with a majestic view of the Eiffel Tower and at the Louvre.
2012: Notre Dame, Place des Vosges and Versailles
In 2012, festivities went all out. Two simultaneous dinners at Place des Vosges and Notre Dame. Then the next night, a third dinner took place at Versailles in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the dinner.
2011: Cour Carrée du Louvre and Notre Dame
Surprise! The first year the dinner was split into two locations, one at Cour Carrée, the back courtyard of the Louvre Museum, and the other again at Notre Dame.
2010: Carrousel du Louvre
The dinner was located at the Carrousel du Louvre, stretching from the I.M. Pei pyramid to the Tuileries. Attendance was estimated at around 12,000.
2009: Place de la Concorde
In 2009, about 10,000 people descended onto Place de la Concorde with a view of the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Palais.
2008: The Champs-Élysées
In 2008, more than 9000 guests made it onto the sidewalks of the Champs-Élysées. Ben & Jerrys, the ice cream company, managed to make its way in time to serve dessert!
2007: Arc de Triomphe/L’Etoile
In 2007, a slightly smaller gathering of 8,000 at the L’Etoile, around the Arc de Triomphe.
2006: The Invalides
In 2006, approximately 8,400 partied on the lawns of the Invalides.
2004: Louvre-Palais Royal
In one of the smallest venues, the 2004 Dîner en Blanc was in the courtyard between the Palais Royal and the Louvre, just outside the Louvre-Palais Royal metro stop on the 1 line. Although the invites were considerably less, with 1400 attending, this dinner was nicknamed the “Sardine Dinner” (Dîner Sardine) because of how difficult it was to setup.
In 1994, it was at the Louvre, marking the first time the event was reported on by the New York Times.
1993: Invalides but Relocated to Champs de Mars
In 1993, the intended destination had been the Invalides but in a rare crackdown from the police, the dinner was quickly relocated to the Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower.
In previous years, it has also been at Madeleine:
The Dîner en Blanc has also taken place at Versailles, the Pantheon, Trocadero, Pont-Saint Louis and Pont de Solferino.