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Sep 3, 2010 08:04 AM

Ready to make our Reservations - Now What?

So after lots of great adivce from this board I am planning on calling the various restaurants which we wish to dine at during out trip at the end of the month. Not speaking a tonne of French (grade 11 highschool) I am of course nervous to ensure it goes right.

I am looking for advice on what time I should call a restaurant in order to book for lunch or dinner? I don't want them to be in the middle of service but am unsure what time most restaurants open? Would it be best to catch them before lunch or dinner service and if so what time (Paris time of course) would be best?

Also I know that most Parisians are just now coming back from les vacances so since these reservations won't be needed until Oct 5 - 8th would it be best to wait until say 2 weeks prior? Or is there a place that I should be booking asap?

I will be booking at:

Brassarie Balzar - for dinner
Le Regalade St. Honore - for lunch
Le Rubis - for a light dinner - are wine bars more 'walk in style'?
Le Reminet - for lunch
Le Petrelle - for dinner
Chez Josephine - dinner

On another note a great business concept came to mind...local French foodies who speak french and english book reservations for non-french speaking clients? We are not staying at a hotel so I can't rely on the services of a concierge...but I would pay for that!

Thank you for your help!

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  1. "a great business concept" I'd love a 4th career as a booker but ah no.

    My advice is to call about 10-11 AM for lunch and 7-8 PM for dinner (I'm talking about what I do the same day), but if you're calling weeks ahead those times should work too. I don't like calling at the end of service, esp to small places.

    2 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      Perhaps souphie ( Petrelle etc) would have time help out? Balzar can be booked on their web site. At Rubis I have always lucked out and got a table on the ground floor w/o reservations.
      As Dr. T has written, you always want to have a fall back option. For example, Le Castiglione is near Rubis.

      1. re: Oakglen

        Oakglen reminds me to remind you "always want to have a fall back option." It has only happened to me a dozen times in several centuries, but restos have electrical fires, outages, floods and deaths - I don't leave home without it.

    2. we use "paris at your service" for dinner reservations all the time as.we too stay in apartments and I am sooo jealous re thoughts of Regalade and Josephine ..have a wonderful trip .

      3 Replies
      1. re: capeanne

        Thanks all - I feel more confident going in now. Wish me luck and I will think of some backups.
        Capeanne - I will be sure to check out that service!!

        1. re: capeanne

          Every apartment we have rented in Paris has had free local phone service. Of no use for difficult bookings, but fine for checking last minute reservations and checking for cancellations/

          1. re: mangeur

            Mais oui, our apartment has a phone so we will use it to confirm once we arrive. I would prefer to have our reservations confirmed before we leave home.

        2. Any comments on if these restaurants have any English speaking staff? Our host for our Paris apartment has kindly offered to make a reservation for me - but I don't want make him book them all - just the ones that might only speak French.

          I have booked Balzar online already and won't make a reservation for Le Rubis until we get there. I understand Petrelle will be fine as they speak English so I am wondering about the last three:

          Le Regalade
          Le Reminet
          Chez Josephine


          14 Replies
          1. re: parisdreamer

            "Le Regalade
            Le Reminet
            Chez Josephine"

            Yes they speak English.

            1. re: Parigi

              Thanks Parigi - looks like it is easy then.

            2. re: parisdreamer

              Not certain you can reserve at Le Rubis. Do they serve dinner? I thought their dining room (upstairs) was lunch only, they do charcuterie etc in the evenings but they close early. Is it 8:00 or 9:00pm? After the workers have headed home after their post work glass of wine.

              1. re: PhilD

                Thanks for the heads up - if we have a late lunch that day we may have to choose a different spot for dinner or just eat at home.

                1. re: parisdreamer

                  Update ...

                  Le Petrelle confirmed - very nice man on the phone who spoke english. Yay.

                  The man whom we are renting our apartment from in Paris was kind enough to call Le Regalade to book our lunch. However, he emailed me and said that they told him I had to call to confirm. So I called today, but the lady didn't speak English so I told her I wanted to confirm a reservation on Oct 6th - but she said they were closed on the 6th. (I have sent an email back to him to confirm that he did indeed book something for us on the 6th)

                  I am trying to figure out why they would be closed on a Wednesday for lunch? And she did say 'fermer' and I repeated it so I am pretty sure that is what she meant. So I made one for Oct 8th just to book something until I figure this all out.

                  1. re: parisdreamer

                    Could she have said "confirme" instead of "fermer"?
                    They could sound alike, especially on a bad connection.


                    1. re: parisjo

                      You could be right JO...uggh...I should have brushed up on my french restaurant words ;-) And I intially said I wanted to confirm a reservation that my friend had made.

                      I just called Josephine and booked dinner on the 8th anyway.

                      I may try again later to fix the Le Regalade but maybe for now I have two lunch reservations and can cancel one later on.

                      1. re: parisdreamer

                        We had a problem with La Regalade. We had made a reservation weeks in advance and were told to confirm on the day. When we called to confirm, we were told that the reservation did not exist. However, they did have a table for us the next night.

                        1. re: Nancy S.

                          Thanks Nancy - the gentleman in paris who made our reservation said he hadn't eaten there but that it all seemed quite complicated. (agreed!)

                          I think I better have a back up lunch reservation...

                          1. re: parisdreamer

                            When I booked at La Régalade, I was also told to confirm on the very day. Since my dinner party was actually a suprise bday party for one person, I did not want to risk it. I called a week in advance and everything was fine. Btw, the resto staff was very helpful and had a little surprise candle on the dessert of the bday girl. The whole resto sang Happy Bday with us and applauded the bday girl…
                            Bottom line: when in doubt, confirm not the very day but one week in advance. That way if sth goes wrong, you have time to book elsewhere.

                            1. re: Parigi

                              Good advice...we will probably confirm all our reservations when we arrive in Normandy on Sept 29th.

                        2. re: parisdreamer

                          Just called Le Regalade and got a gentleman who spoke english. We did have two reservations (Oct 6th and 8th) so I confirmed Oct 6th and cancelled Oct if anyone wants a lunch reservation for 2 at 1pm on the is now available! (not sure how booked up they are.

                    2. re: parisdreamer

                      Le Rubis is an old-line wine bar with a zinc bar etc; I got to know it well, maybe too well, during my Paribas days. After a big lunch, Rubis is a good place in the early evening for a light repast. They have great relationships with a number of small vineyards that dates back to the 50's. The people who frequent Rubis tend to be locals who live or work in the area; if you lack language skills it might not work for you. If you want to see what "old Paris" was like, stop in for a kir at the bar.

                      1. re: Oakglen

                        Thanks Oakglen - appreciate the details - sounds wonderful. I would probably say I do better conversing in french face to face (can always gain more by facial expressions etc.) It is nice to know we have lots of options when we are there.