Direct translation: 'The White Night'. But also a common French expression for, as we might say, 'pulling an all-nighter'. It is an annual all-night arts festival which takes over the beautiful city of Paris, opening up galleries, museums, buildings of interest that wouldn't otherwise be accessible to the public, the streets and even the River Seine as performance and exhibition spaces.
I was lucky enough to be in France at the time of this year's Nuit Blanche, and made it so that we could be in Paris on the night.
Slightly overwhelmed by the size of the area spanned by the festival's events, and perturbed by the lack of an English translation of the programme, we braved the October Parisian rains and went exploring.
We wandered first through the Eastern stretch of the festival, marvelling at the architecture of the Institut du Monde Arabe, and witnessing just twenty minutes of a 'Philip Glass Marathon' that was to run from 9.30pm to 2am.
Across the Pont-Marie bridge and onto Ile de St Louis we discovered what was my favourite part of the night: a performance in the windows of the Biblioteque Polonaise. Léna Massiani's 'Danse à tous les étages' was simplistic, well-choreographed and with a little French flavour courtesy of accordion accompaniment. As we watched from beneath umbrellas on the street, I was very conscious of the value of taking performance out of the proscenium theatre stage, and into the world, to be accessed by people who wouldn't necessarily seek it out.
The White Night also encouraged me to appreciate the host buildings themselves as works of art. I guess as much as a set is of such importance on stage, the chosen setting for each work throughout the city should of course lend itself to the themes, mood and overall impression of the performance work that it hosts.
The atmosphere throughout the city was, despite the rain, electric, and from the haunting beauty of Notre-Dame Cathedral, to the cartoonesque brass band playing Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now' under a bridge, this White Night was a great one.
As street art becomes increasingly popular and in demand, it seems that the French may be leaders of the pack. I know that StopGAP's experiences of other works at the annual street arts festival in Amiens, in the North East of the country, have been hugely positive, and the scale of La Nuit Blanche and its audience is a testimony to its success.
Brighton holds its own annual White Night, which unfortunately has this year been cancelled due to lack of funds; a great shame, but perhaps another reason to return to Paris in a year... ?