On my first trip abroad, I traveled with French students from my high school and others to France and Switzerland. That first trip sparked my love of travel. I was a bit of a Francophile before that visit, but experiencing French culture firsthand definitely sealed the deal. I went back in college, but I had not returned to France since then, until a dear friend called me with an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Started in Paris and celebrated worldwide, Dîner en Blanc is a one night event at which invited guests gather in a public space (kept secret until the night of the event) and set up tables and chairs to create a special temporary dining space, at which they enjoy food and wine selected themselves. Famously, everyone wears chic white to the event. I was aware of Diner en Blanc and knew past participants, but I was a total newbie as far actually participating. My friend Chrystal invited me to the thirtieth anniversary diner, in Paris, as her guest. I was a little apprehensive initially, especially since accepting required me to leave Lily for five days…and I’d never left her, even overnight. At the end of the day though, it seemed like such a great opportunity that I realized I’d probably regret saying no. I knew Lily was in good hands with her grandma and dad.

I’m so glad I said yes! Visiting Paris after so many years was both nostalgic and exhilarating. I found comfort in the familiar sights, and enjoyed trying new restaurants and bars. The restaurant at the Costes Hotel was both impossibly chic and incredibly delicious. The chili sea bass was especially memorable.

Chrystal and I also spent a lot of time at Galleries Lafayette. This was partially due to the fact that Diner en Blanc items were to be picked up at the department store, but the temptation to shop was difficult to avoid. Galleries Lafayette is the kind of place you could easily spend the day in. Their music exhibit was fun, and I enjoyed my lunch of caviar and champagne. I mean, when in Paris…

Diner en Blanc en Paris was everything I’d imagined. A lovely dinner followed by a fabulous party, all under the watchful eye of the Eiffel Tower. We were with the New York group, which was so much fun. I really liked the moment when the sparklers were lit. It’s so often photographed and Instagrammed, but it still felt special. Chrystal and I had an amazing time. I think we really had as much fun as our photos convey, if not more. All in all, it was a night filled with champagne and sparkling lights, in the City of Lights. Who could find fault with that?

I’m really glad I participated in Diner en Blanc. I look forward to returning to Paris soon…I can’t stay away for so long now that I’ve experienced the magic again.