Final list - when/how to reserve?
I think I've finally made my final list for our April 2008 trip. A little over 3 months to go! I know I've chosen places that need reservations, but I was wondering if you could help me figure out how soon I need to call/email to make sure I get in. I'm pretty set on these places so I'd like to try my best.
Which ones can be done via email or internet, and which ones need to be called? I've found web links for reserving Pierre Gagnaire and Taillevent (the restaurant website and bestrestaurantsparis.com), Aux Lyonnais (lafourchette.com and restaurant website), Mon Vieil Ami, and Les Bouquinistes (both have websites). I've heard stories of the internet being not the best method and people not getting confirmations, but I'm afraid if I call to reserve, my elementary French will prevent me from reserving successfully.
Chez L'Ami Jean
Mon Vieil Ami
Le P'tit Troquet
You'll also be happy to know that 4 of the restaurants have been cut for our 7 day trip so we don't "waddle home" (as some put it to me before).
For Taillevent, as soon as possible, probably right after the holiday. Pierre Gagnaire takes reservation one month in advance. For both, lunch reservations are much easier than dinner. I've found both restaurant's own websites reliable. Since both will have someone that speaks English, I would telephone them for reservations. For the others, I have not had any trouble with just a few days ahead, usually I when I get to Paris. L'Ami Jean is very busy on weekends and Mon Vieil Ami on Sunday evenings, so those might be couple weeks ahead. It might be too early now for for any of the restaurants to take reservations for April, Taillevent being the exception.
I've always been successful with reserving via a web site or email (in English). If you do call, almost everyone in Paris speaks English, so you can try asking "En Anglais, s'il vous plait?". Otherwise just try your French and ask them to speak slowly (parlez lentement) so you can understand the response. Even though you seem to be set with your choices, I would just caution you that Les Bouquinistes has become what I consider a tourist trap (no problem with the food, but prices have risen sharply and no Parisians eat there anymore). You will be surrounded by other Americans. I strongly recommend Ze Kitchen Galerie instead, as it has the former chef of Bouquinistes, and the price is much more reasonable. It is popular with locals and just offers much better value.
It's not a bad idea to reserve far in advance if you want to be sure of getting the dates/times you want. Just remember to reconfirm your reservations a few days to a week before by phone or email. They usually don't tell you that you need to do this, but in France it is always assumed that you will or your reservation will be cancelled.