Reserve table for end of July/early August?
My family, two adults and two children (3 and 8), will be in Paris for 5 days the end of the month. We will be renting an apartment (11e near Ledru-Rollin, Charonne, Voltaire) and plan on eating in for breakfast, eating out for all our lunches and who knows for dinner -- depends on where and how big/late our lunch was.
Since it's late July/early August, when some places are closed for the summer, do we need to book for our meals days or even weeks in advance? We will arrive Sunday evening. Should we try to find a place for dinner and book early?
There are a couple places that seems popular which I'd love to try, e.g. Chez Robert et Louis (3e), Gaigne (4e), Aux Tonneaux des Halles (1e/3e?, Le Caveau de Palais (1e). Can people just walk in?
I'd love to try some of the places that people rave about here, TripAdvisor and foodie blog-land, but I hate to also be restricted in terms of time.
I've been to Paris before but the other three haven't. I don't plan on hauling them all over the place. We live in England and it will not be our first and last trip. I'd like to do the Notre Dame, Latin Qt., St Germaine, Musee d'Orsy, Arc de Triomph, and Eiffel Tower. I think one day we'll hang around Marais down to Latin Qtr and the next from St. Germaine to Eiffel to the Arc. Then I want to spend a day in Montmartre too. We'll pass the Louvre but I think we'll skip entering. The girls have been to enough museums and while the 8 yrs old would be thrilled to see Monalisa (she's a blooming artist), the young one would go ballistic if I take her to another museum :)
If you have any bistro (preferably)/cafe/restaurant recommendation that's good but not hard to get a table at around where we want to go, please feel free to suggest. Don't worry about the kids. They are amazingly good at restaurants (casual to middle class folks fancy -- nothing over $100/pp meals so far though). As long as they're engaged, they are always a part of the conversation or we'll color together, they sit. We don't need children menus either. If there is one great, if not, no biggie.
In Paris always book, if nothing else it is polite. But more importantly, places with good food do get full and there are fewer of them inParis than many assume. The most popular book months and weeks in advance, but many will be OK a few days in advance, and obviously more in advance for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Remember, Many don't open on Sunday and Monday and a few don't open on Saturday and Sunday. And if you don't want to haul the family around then having a reservation helps - better than needing to trail around full places (or eating badly).
As to recommendation - yours is a standard, frequently asked question, search recent posts that are similar. You obviously already have done a little bit of that. And beware of Trip Adviser reviews most are tourists on food fanatics, tourists have different expectations and food is often not front and centre.