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Aug 18, 2010 10:05 AM

Reservation Ettiquette - Cancelling

I have read that reservations for the most part are essential for booking lunches and dinners at some Paris restaurants.

So my question is - what if I plan out my 4 days in Paris and book reservations for both lunches and dinners and we the decide that we don't want to eat out at a restaurant and instead want to do something on our own? Is it rude to cancel a reservation an hour before you show up?


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  1. Of course it is, but better than not calling at all.. Unlike NY people l know who make three reservations on the same night to determine later which they want to go to. This is why in Paris you almost never have to secure a reservation with a credit card. If you have a sick child or a missing dog or whatever, it can happen, but try to give the restaurant as much time as you can, hopefully a few days.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

      Thanks for your quick reply. I would always ensure we cancelled and not show up which I think is rude no matter what country you are dining in.

      I worry that we will have a wonderful huge dinner the day before and then just won't have the appetite the next day for a sit down lunch. I am trying to mix it up to have one large meal each day and then a lighter option for the 2nd meal. But with all the choices and places we want to go it is proving hard not to have reservations for both meals!

      1. re: parisdreamer

        Well, I shouldn't be giving advice on this but I will: I too eat one large meal and a small one every day, the former at noon out, the latter at home but when I must go out at night on business, i have oysters at lunch. We've discussed before if it's not unfair to the resto at night to order say just one dish and I suppose it is at places that could without you be serving 3-4 courses so an alternative strategy might me to eat at a big place that's packed and hard to get into for lunch and a lesser known place with empty seats at night, thus obviating the guilt factor. But don't ask me for a list of the "lesser known" ones, because that would be rude too.

    2. I've been thanked by restaurateurs/telephonistes in Paris for calling to cancel; and since I will most surely want to go another time and they (almost) all have caller ID, it's a win-win.

      It's also good to call if one of your odd-numbered guests (say 3 or 5) cannot come since then they can rebook the larger table.

      1. So many inconsiderate people fail to cancel reservations that they don't plan to use that, as JT says, restaurants are very happy and grateful when you call to cancel. Additionally, most of the restaurants discussed on this forum turn away walk-ins at every service. Your call allows them to fill a table promptly without inconvenience to either the walk-in and the house.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mangeur

          It comes down to manners. In a good restaurant, though money is changing hands, you feel looked after, like a "guest". If you were invited to a friend's home and you couldn't make it, you'd call to let the friend know? It's the same thing in a restaurant.

          In England, restauranteurs have successfully sued clients who haven't cancelled reservations.

          1. re: vielleanglaise

            "In England, restauranteurs have successfully sued clients who haven't cancelled reservations."
            I guess it's un-PC to say it, but hey guys, honor the Golden Rule, (my new University President on his arrival had one message "Be Nice." ) What's lost?

            1. re: vielleanglaise

              "In England, restauranteurs have successfully sued clients who haven't cancelled reservations"

              i wanted to sue a restaurant once for cancelling my reservation by just leaving a message on my voicemail telling me to confirm with them before a certain, or else they would cancel my booking. i was not told the rules when i made the reservation, and i didn't listen to my voicemail until after the deadline 'cos i was in a class!!!!! from where i am, the customers always lose!!!! >.<