Parisian picnic pops up at Place des Vosges

Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:24am EDT
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By Alexandria Sage

PARIS (Reuters) - Leave it to the Parisians to organize the most sophisticated - and gastronomic - flash mobs.

Thousands of locals gathered in the city's Place des Vosges on Thursday night for an impromptu open-air dinner, dressed head to toe in white and bringing with them white tablecloths, glassware and other finery.

Participants at the "Diner en blanc" (Dinner in White) were told of the venue via social media sites and the Internet, then rushed to assemble in the heart of Paris' Marais district, in a 25-year-old tradition that still leaves passersby open-mouthed.

Last year, thousands gathered in front of Notre Dame cathedral at twilight for what organizers call a "chic picnic in a public space", waving their white napkins at the appointed time before digging in to enjoy their meals.

Other venues in Paris have included the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum's courtyard, Les Invalides, the final resting place of Napoleon, and the famed Champs-Elysees.

"It's a sort of ritual, a need for social contact. It's a chance to get together and meet new people," said Claire Verckel, a regular at the gourmet event.

Sheltered by the cloistered arcades of Paris' oldest square, diners raised glasses in toasts and savored their meals by candlelight, while in the background a white grand piano provided musical accompaniment.

"I came out of curiosity, but the atmosphere is amazing," said first-timer Arnaud Bonichon.   Continued...

People attend the White Dinner event at Place des Vosges in the Marais district of Paris June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes