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Jun 1, 2006 11:29 AM

Best way to make reservations in Paris?

  • a

I'd like to make reservations at a few places
in Paris before my summer trip.
What's the best way to do it by phone from the US if you don't speak any French? Not many restuarants have email/websites.

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  1. I've had good luck by just calling at a time of day the restaurant won't be crowded and busy.. mid-afternoon etc. My French is OK, but they all seem to speak English regardless. Learn a few words like please, thank you, good afternoon etc. I think it helps.

    2 Replies
    1. re: zuriga

      I agree about calling. Start with Parlez vous Anglais? They will either say yes or at least "a little" and you just talk slowly after that.

      The places that don't speak any English are usually the ones where you may not need a reservation until you get to Paris. Then you can drop by and hand them your name, time and date of reservation and number of people--or have your hotel handle it for you.

      1. re: zuriga

        Recommend calling yourself as well, some of the harder tables might be easier to get if you call yourself. And you will feel so proud of yourself when you have done it. Just ask politely in bad French if they speak English. They always speak much better than they will admit. And have the name and telephone # of your hotel ready to give them as that is usually required, as is a phone call when you arrive in Paris to reconfirm.

      2. If you're staying in a hotel, you can ask the concierge or desk clerk to make the reservations for you. I have faxed a list of the places I'd like to dine with phone numbers (with stars next to the ones that are most desired) and simply asked them to make dinner reservations for us around 8:30 for each night of our stay.

        If you don't have a concierge or clerk available to you, the next best thing you can do is call yourself, but learn just a couple of phrases:

        - Good afternoon, sir/miss. - Bon jour, monsieur/mademoiselle.
        - Do you speak English? - Parlez-vous anglais?
        - I don't speak French - Je ne parle pas francais.

        If you start off with at least that small attempt, you will find that nearly everyone in Paris speaks English. And it's the polite thing to do.

        Failing even that, you can try faxing or emailing the restaurants in English, indicating very clearly the date, the number in your party, and the time you'd like to dine. Be sure to include your return fax number, phone number or email address. If you don't get a response within a few days, don't assume anything - try calling again.

        Bon chance! (good luck)

        1 Reply
        1. re: Deenso

          Used the concierge to make my reservations (via email) - it's the easiest way to go about it.

          But keep in mind the way you write out the date/time - as in Europe (and most of the world) they use the format of date/month/year and military time. I always make sure to format it as Tuesday, 25th July 2006 ( = 25/07/06 ) at 20:30 for 2 persons. It's always thoughtful to also include the phone number of the restaurant if you have it.

          Good luck and Good Eating!

        2. Contact the concierge at your hotel in Paris, they will not only likely speak english, you'll be able to email back and forth. This is what they do, but most people don't realise the best time to use them is before you arrive, with enough lead time they can arrange the second coming.

          If you're staying at a smaller hotel with no concierge, the desk clerks are usually very helpful, even in advance

          1. t
            Thomas Broussard

            I have been in Paris a week today. Restaurants that used to be full are half-empty. Although I have had the conceirge at the hotel book for us, it has never really been necessary. If your hotel does not have a conceirge to book for you send me an email of your requests I can have our conceirge book for you. We will be here for the next two weeks.

            1. i live in hong kong and always make my dinner reservations by phone in english before i leave for paris. make sure you confirm your reservation when you get there though.