FIGARO/LIFESTYLE : Dinner in White. On the 30th anniversary of this pique-nique chic in Paris, 17,000 guests from the four corners of the world set up their tables and chairs in front of Les Invalides. The vast lawns became entirely white. At the very last minute, about 8 p.m. on Sunday [3rd June], the organisers revealed the venue for the dinner: the Esplanade des Invalides. It broke all records. The 30th ‘pic-nic for polite society’ in Paris attracted, according to the organisers, 17,000 participants: of whom some 6,000 had come from abroad especially for the occasion.
Dinner in White: 17,000 immaculate guests grace the Esplanade des Invalides
First published 4th June 2018 in Le Figaro as:
Dîner en blanc: 17.000 convives immaculés ont sublimé l’Esplanade des Invalides
By Anne-Sophie de Mazenod
The weather was compliant. The guests, immaculate in white, benefited from blue skies, then a magnificent sunset during the meal. Despite the absence — again this year — of official authorisation, the dinner went off without incident. Of litter, there was none.
After the gardens of the Palais Royal, the Place des Vosges, the Place de la Concorde, the side-alleys of the Champs-Élysées, the Champs de Mars, and the cathedral square of Notre-Dame-de-Paris, this dinner on the Esplanade des Invalides marks the end of an era. It is the last to be organised by François Pasquier, the unassuming originator of the event, who now cedes his place to his children and friends.
The dinner that captivates Paris has now been exported to eighty spectacular foreign cities, including New York, Montreal, and Sydney.
The ever-present risk of terrorism reinforces what was in any case tradition: the place and date of the dinner are kept secret until the last minute. For the 29th event, in June 2017, “we have chosen a place where the risk of ram-raids is non-existant”, according to Ameyric Pasquier, one of the organisers. Within the space of half-an-hour, and respecting strict procedure, the guests set up tables decorated with candles, silverware, and bunches of flowers. The secret venue turns out to be the Hôtel de Ville. “It’s incredible. It’s wonderful to see all these people dining in white in such a beautiful location. The idea is fabulous! It’s so much in the spirit of France”, enthuses Nancy, a visiting American tourist.