Touching the Darkness

Dans Le Noir?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be blind? Don’t feel bad, most people do. We see them all over Paris getting on metros and reading their curiously looking books, and we worry about them as we watch how easily they cross high traffic avenues, and yet we can’t help but wonder about how they live their lives in this labyrinth of a city. These thoughts are what probably led Eduard de Broglier to host a dinner with his friends in complete darkness one day while traveling around Europe. This dinner was such a success that Eduard was motivated to turn this idea into a new restaurant concept more than ten years ago, which led to the creation of ‘Dans le Noir?’. A restaurant that offers a different experience than what we’re used to as we are forced to dine in pitchblack darkness, relying only on our other four senses.

With various other restaurants all around the world such as Saint Petersburg, Barcelona and London, their Paris location fits about 57 people at a time and reservations are needed to get in, so be sure to RSVP. This can be done by phone or online thru their website, which is translated into more than 10 languages, but their ‘reservations’ section is only in French for the time being. Once you arrive, the staff confirms your reservation, explains the concept and asks you to put all your belongings in a locker including lighted watches as they can ruin the whole experience for everyone. They suggest you to use the washroom beforehand, and afterwards you are presented with the menu formula with various options which include an entrée + main dish or a main dish + dessert for 39€ for lunch on weekends or 43€ for dinner (they also offer a student 5€ discount). The hostess writes down your choices and asks if you have any allergies and then introduces you to your blind guide/server. Ours was named Elisa, and she presented herself in both French and English and even made a joke that once we’re inside if need her we shouldn’t even think about raising our hand to call her!

We formed a line, put our hands on top of the shoulders of the person in front of us and proceeded to trust Elisa as she guided us into obscurity. As we passed through small corridors, darkness descended upon us, and as we turned left and right we started to feel a little scared as we had no clue of what we were getting ourselves into or what was in store for us. Everything was pitch-black; all we could see was our thoughts analyzing everything that surrounded us whilst we tried to imagine the room, the walls, tables and chairs around us. The room somehow felt huge, yet tight as the same time as we could hear other’s peoples chatter at a distance but felt columns and walls around us. Elisa sat us one by one while she asked for our names and told us to feel around for our cutlery and to place our napkin on our laps. She gave us a bottle of water and we proceeded to serve ourselves by holding our plastic cup by the rim so we’re sure we’re actually pouring inside it. While waiting for our surprise meals to come, our eyes adjusted to the nothingness and started to feel more comfortable. We started relaxing, taking off our glasses, aimlessly reaching around for water and bread with care, and talking about everything around us, anything we could think of just to hear ourselves and feel a little bit normal, just to feel closer and safe.

When our meals came, we had the instinct to grab our forks and knives but the curiosity of what was on these dishes was more than some of us could bare which actually made us leave our cutlery behind and start using our sense of touch to feel what was on the plate in front of us, just to be reassured of having actual food on it. Even with the silverware it wasn’t easy finding food on the dish without being able to see where to pick; it reminds me of learning to use chopsticks for the first time where your food keeps falling off. But when you finally manage to grab those pre-cut pieces of meat, and start tasting it, you start playing ‘the guessing game’ with your friends to figure out what are the main ingredients on our plates.

A look at our meals!

A look at our surprise dish

We call our waitress to let her know when we’re done and she proceeds to remove the plates off the table. Some time passes, five minutes, maybe ten, maybe fifteen… you lose the perception of time while there, but eventually you are brought your second dish which for us was dessert. And here comes ‘the guessing game’ again, one of us even thought he had three items on his plate instead of two as the rest of us ‘felt’ we had… later on we found our he was right! When we were done, we were guided out through the dark maze the same way we were guided in, but nearing the end we stopped hallway the last corridor to help our eyes adjust as we’re saying our goodbyes as thank yous to our lovely server. Outside the light seemed so bright, so uncomfortable, so it took us a couple of minutes for our eyes to fully adjust. In the meantime they showed us a menu with pictures of the meals we just ate so we got to see who won actually our guessing games!

It was a very unique thing to actually experience what it’s like to be blind for a while and we definitely recommend everyone to try it at least once in his or her lifetime. If you’re unable to go to a restaurant such as “Dans le Noir?” then maybe you try it at home by blindfolding your guests, but then you won’t be able to enjoy the experience like they will.

Have you ever been to a restaurant with a bizarre or unusual concept before? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!

Rating: 8.5/10

Ideal for special occasions, date nights, and bringing out-of-towners in to experience something unique.

Main Photo Credit: http://www.danslenoir.com

Address: 51 Rue Quincampoix 75004 Paris

Website: http://paris.danslenoir.com/

Metro: Chatelet / Les Halles | Etienne Marcel | Rambuteau

By: Yessika Mármol, Anna Peng & Mavis Ye

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