Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann Column 34 - Let’s talk about Culture and ….."Dîner en blanc"


 Have you heard of the "Dîner en blanc"?

On June 14, about 11.000 people clad all in white came together for the oldest, largest and most exclusive outdoor dinner party at the Louvre Museum (5000 people) and at the Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower (6000 people) to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this unusual event. A beautiful dreamlike sight.

It was in 1988 that this event was first launched by Francois Pasquier with 200 people meeting in style in the Bois de Boulogne Park. After some years spent abroad François wanted to meet his friends and make new ones, it is said, and he wanted to do it in a chic way and set up rules of dress and etiquette. Today the "Dîner en blanc" has become a fixed institution and the term itself a registered trademark. It has made a triumphal advance into many other countries and cities – around 40 - who have become members of this institution. Berlin had its own party on last Saturday.

The rules are the combining element: Everybody and all in elegant white, tables and foldable chairs that are all brought by the guests, tablecloths and decoration such as candles, all in white; only wine or champagne can be consumed, no beer or hard drinks, the idea is to get together in great decorum and share the beauty of the place, a public place.


It was a perfect evening again, the rain had stopped just in time, no traffic was disturbing, police took it with humour, when 11,000 people exquisitely dressed, descended on the two separate sites simultaneously to set up the giant outdoor picnic with swift and military precision. Everything was sparkling, the white against the evening sky with the last rays of the sun setting over Paris. From their picnic baskets dinner was laid out and the most exclusive dreamlike event started around 9 pm and finished at midnight when the guests stood up, took their tables and chairs and left the place without leaving anything, not the slightest impression was left, just like in a dream that passed, a dream in white. Magic.


It is a good thing to hear - in these times of unrest - of  people who come together for the joy of life, not in a cheap hasty way, but to demonstrate that life is something special, and that once in a while this fact should be brought to the front of our daily routine, away from the ordinariness and stress, away from complaining and struggling, simply by being beautifully dressed and by carefully selecting food and drink to carry in a white basket to a gorgeous place kept secret until the last moment. It is to experience something extraordinary before the dullness of every day takes over again….and finally to share the excitement with others, with thousands of them who think likewise.

It proves that we have to undertake things ourselves to make life a road full of precious moments.

Joy of life and stepping out of the anonymity of a big city, sharing and realizing that we are not alone.


It is not easy for me to write about celebrating life and showing pictures of a seemingly elegant and outstanding party in Paris while in other places of Europe people gather for quite other reasons, where they fight, fight through sit-ins for basic things such as freedom of mind and body.


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