Men and women in white suits and breezy white dresses mill around a secluded side street in the 7th arrondissement. They’re carrying picnic baskets and have folding tables tucked under their arms. On some unseen cue, the crowd excitedly moves toward the Esplande des Invalides—and in a complicated choreography, tables are arranged in neat rows. Pristine white tablecloths unfurl, china is laid out, flowers are placed in vases, and Champagne bottles pop. Just before midnight they pack up, leaving no trace of the evening’s festivities behind.
This is Le Dîner en Blanc: a secretive, flash-mob-style picnic that sees crowds in white descend on gardens and public spaces around the world for a civilized, gourmet feast. It’s taken place in locales as disparate as the steps of the Sydney Opera House and the courtyard of the Louvre. Originally organized by François Pasquier for a handful of friends in Paris, the pop-up picnic, and it’s now-iconic dress code, quickly took off, earning loyal fans and captivating those not on the list. Today, it is held annually in 80 major cities across six continents, and this June it kicked off its 30th anniversary at the Esplanade des Invalides, seeing nearly 20,000 devotees travel from all corners of the world to attend.
To continue the celebration of its milestone birthday in its signature style, Le Dîner en Blanc has launched Sofitel en Blanc—an elevated version of the famous picnic created in partnership with six Sofitel properties across North America. The package gives guests who may not have acquired a coveted invite (or those on the list looking to up the luxe factor) exclusive access to the Dîner en Blanc events happening in Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York City, Philadelphia (which regularly hosts the largest dinners outside of Paris), and Washington, D.C., throughout August and September.
Sofitel en Blanc guests won’t need to do any of the heavy lifting that comes with the typical Le Dîner en Blanc experience—instead they’ll arrive at the hosting Sofitel property for a welcome Champagne toast before piling into a chauffeured car to be driven to the appointed meeting spot. (An even more plush version of the package includes a pre-picnic shopping spree to track down the all-important white ensemble.) Once the secret location of the picnic is revealed, they’ll be escorted to a preset tablescape—think lush bouquets of flowers, white candles, delicate china, and plenty of fine wine. They’ll dine alongside Dîner diehards on menus prepared by the chefs of the hosting Sofitel property. Once they’re done, plates will be swept away, and they’ll spend the rest of the evening mixing and mingling under the stars with their fellow revelers.
As the picnic draws to a close, both the guests and their accoutrements will be packed up by the Sofitel team. Once back on the property, they can continue the festivities in their plushily outfitted suites or end the night in Le Dîner en Blanc style, climbing into the crisp white linens of their king-sized beds.