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Jun 25, 2014 07:22 PM

Overwhelmed -should I worry about making more reservations Paris 7/23-29

I'll be staying at the edge of 6/7 (? Rue du Bac) from 7/23-7/29. Once I realized the Tour de France was ending in Paris the Sunday I am in town I made a reservation for dinner at La Ferme Saint Simon (which I had planned to do anyway as several people have noted that it can be hard to find a place open on Sunday plus with many 'August" closures already started I wanted to have something in my pocket). Nice thing about this restaurant is it is roughly two blocks from my hotel so if there is any difficulties due to traffic I can still make it.

On the one hand, I have researched a lot of places and have a list of places I want to try (this thread was uber helpful as all of these are super close to me:


On the other hand, I like to play it by ear and not have a set itinerary on any day. This is my first time vacationing without kids, not visiting family, etc, in almost ten years and I plan more to chill and visit Paris rather than hit all the tourist spots (yes, I know, hard to do where I am but there's a reason for the location).

So I guess my question is should I be making more reservations, especially on the weekend? I guess I am also worried about how to cancel reservations once I am in France being unsure of my internet access while I am there and having very limited French.

TIA for any advice.

Oh, and if any one wants to chime in with other nearby places, I'm all ears. La Ferme is at the very top edge of my dinner budget, Chez Graff seems along the lines of what I anticipate lunch will be when I don't just picnic/nosh.

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  1. Some excellent advice on reservations here
    What works best for me is stopping in an attractive restaurant while on our daily walk about and asking about reservations, leaving my card and explaining my phone problems and assuring the person that I will be there on time. Never failed me. Also just turning on the phone to make the reservation worked well. I only had one problem and that was with email reservations I believe as the restaurant wants person to person contact or prior experience with the customer.
    Where you are located is optimal for great eating....wonderful places on everyone's list abound within easy walking distance.

    3 Replies
    1. re: hychka

      Thank you. That link confirmed a bit of why I am hesitant to make reservations - if I am unsure I am going to dine somewhere it doesn't seem right to tie up the spot.

      So far the only other reservations I may make is Monday dinner and lunch my arrival day (Wednesday). Cross checking The Fork and my 'short' list.

      Appreciate the input.

      1. re: AHA64

        I usually book the night before or the day of during the week... last-minute decisions are much more dicey at weekends. If a place is full I just move on to the next place on my list. But I always have a good idea (and a big list) of alternatives in any particular quartier.

        Since your budget is relatively tight, I'd hop on a bus to get to another arrondissement (such as the 14th and 15th) where there are more options than the expensive 7th ... extending your range by a direct bus route is so much better and just as easy as "walking distance". Just trace out your nearest bus routes to find the most convenient areas.

        1. re: Parnassien

          Okay, off to look at bus routes and make up more lists. :-)

    2. My wife & I and the people we just entertained in Paris liked Chez Hanna near the west end of rue de Rosiers in the 4th. It won't break the bank and provides a good, filling meal.
      Closer to home, everyone we took to Cosi on rue de Seine loved the sandwiches. The bread is fantastic!
      Can't find the link to give credit to the Hound that tipped me off, ... there is a bus app available for your iPhone whatever. Search "bus Paris." Works great; and, the bus takes the same tickets as the Metro.

      1. My wife & I and the people we just entertained in Paris liked Chez Hanna near the west end of rue de Rosiers in the 4th. It won't break the bank and provides a good, filling meal.
        Closer to home, everyone we took to Cosi on rue de Seine loved the sandwiches. The bread is fantastic!
        Can't find the link to give credit to the Hound that tipped off, there is a bus app available for your iPhone whatever. Search "bus Paris." Works great and takes the same tickets as the Metro.

        19 Replies
        1. re: hychka

          "Can't find the link to give credit to the Hound that tipped off, there is a bus app available for your iPhone whatever. Search "bus Paris." Works great and takes the same tickets as the Metro."

          Or, here goes Groundhog day, just go to your nearest metro station and ask for the Grand Plan Numero 2, which is the same map posted on the backs of bus stops. It shows all bus and metro routes...and all stops...and is free. They will probably offer you numero 1, which is for tourists and which is essentially useless.
          Smile sweetly and repeat, "Numero 2, s'il vous plait."

          This is my Paris bible. :)

          1. re: mangeur

            "here goes Groundhog day"
            I got you babe.

              1. re: mangeur

                There ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb

                  1. re: Parigi

                    Apparently, it was going downhill that was the problem (did I just say that?)

              2. re: mangeur

                Yes, that's a great map for free, very useful; but, the app available from the apple Store called RATP lets you enter where you are and where you want to go and BINGO! You get the complete instructions. Yes, you have to have a wifi or a data plan connection for it to work. Because of business, I'm attached to my iPhone 24/7 and some people aren't.

                1. re: hychka

                  " Because of business, I'm attached to my iPhone 24/7 and some people aren't."

                  Ergo, the reason I advise people to just go ask for the #2. It's kind of like Apple. Elegant in its simplicity.

                  1. re: mangeur

                    Thank you!

                    Looks like 68 & 69 run almost past my door, 39 and 95 only a couple of blocks away.

                    Using the search function to see what's been mentioned as being near these routes.

                    1. re: AHA64

                      Bingo! This is our neighborhood and these buses are our workhorses.

                      Note also that, as the airlines tell us in the safety video, sometimes your closest bus is behind you. The #27, caught on the north end of the Pont du Carrousel, whisks you south, through the Latin Quarter, Mouffetard, Place d'Italie, et al.

                      #24 on quai voltaire takes you to Madelaine.

                      You are in bus central!

                    2. re: mangeur

                      The RATP web site works as well as the app for those without a smart phone (and I think it is also on android) so good for planning at home or in an apartment with wifi.

                      I know the paper maps a free, but better to buy a Paris Practique book which has good street maps and metro maps. It's the guide locals use so you don't stand out as a tourist by struggling with big paper maps (a great signal for the petty criminal who want to target the slightly bewildered).

                      1. re: PhilD

                        I can get the app, just need to see if I have data service (T-mobile anyone?)

                        The book looks really helpful, but doesn't seem to have bus routes? I don't mind the stairs for the Metro, but like the idea of seeing what I'm passing by on a bus.

                        1. re: AHA64

                          Mine has buses, metro and RER (inside the covers).

                          1. re: PhilD

                            The RATP n°2 bus map and the locals' real map books - I have both - cannot substitute for each other.
                            The map book is indeed an essential tool that tourists don't use enough. Any time of the day, when I look out the window, I see lost tourists struggling with the pathetic little maps that they pick up in airports or department stores. 95% of all honeymooners' quarrels and children sulking are caused by those idiotic maps.
                            I also have the RATP app on my iphone, but I try to have a life, which means an iphone-non-dependent life.
                            And the app obviously does not work so well. There are as many puzzled immobile tourists staring at their iphone as those staring at the pathetic Galeries Lafayette maps. Do get the n°2 map even if you have the RATP app. And, ladies, don't hesitate to ask directions. You know why men get an RATP app or this map or that map, right? Because they would rather die or walk to the North Pole instead of asking direction.

                          2. re: AHA64

                            Someone on another forum just raved about the T-Mobile coverage he/she had in France. Very generous with data, apparently. But I have no idea what the merger with Sprint might do, so you should just call them and ask.

                            1. re: AHA64

                              I think Orange (the main cellular provider in Paris) owns T-Mobile. Worked real well back when I had a T-Mobile phone.

                            2. re: PhilD

                              We carry a streetmap book also. But tourists here for a couple of days are loathe to put out the money for one.

                              Opened up, the #2 is BIG. I can read street names and see every stop.

                              We also have the bus route book. But I don't leave my hotel without my #2. In a pinch, and if the street you want isn't too esoteric, it works as a street map.

                              I really wonder why it meets so much resistance. It's BIG and FREE.

                              1. re: mangeur

                                I'll get both, don't worry. I'm fairly good at memorizing directions. Plus I use the trick of taking a photo of the area of the map I'll be in so that I can pull it up on my phone if I do get turned around. Compensates for lousy data coverage.

                                1. re: mangeur

                                  For me because it is BIG is why I don't use it. I prefer the book format or my phone. Horses for courses.

                      2. Now that the bus thing has been explained, back to affordable food considering AHA64's budget. Where are we busing him/her to specifically? Are we saying that once you get into the double digit arrondissements the menu prices drop by 30 eurs across the board? Hasn't been my experience.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: hychka

                          I think I may have given a misimpression, or had poor information to base my pricing assumptions on. Here's my thinking on what the cost of meals would be when I said <i>""La Ferme is at the very top edge of my dinner budget, Chez Graff seems along the lines of what I anticipate lunch will be"" </i>:

                          The Fork has La Ferme Saint Simon *starting* at 50e for dinner. Indeed the little bit of menu they show has mains at 30/40e, so that with a drink - a very minimal dinner - would be 50e, Looking at the prices on apps, drinks and dessert, I anticipate it'll be closer to/a bit over 100e when all is said and done. That is the very high end of my dinner budget, I can't do that every night, but given I already have dinner plans for a couple of night already which are less expensive I could go up to this.

                          As for lunch, my impression is that lunch at Chez Graff will run me ~40e, all inclusive (assuming I don't have wine with lunch). I can do this for lunch, a bit lower is good, but I can manage this.

                          Please let me know if I'm being unrealistic. From what I've read here and other places this seems reasonable, but I certainly could be way off!

                          1. re: AHA64

                            At that budget and under, I 'd sure think about FISH and Dans les Landes, both special places. We went to the latter on Parigi's advice and are very grateful for the tip.

                          2. re: hychka

                            When you get out of the handful of tourist-central arrondissements, you have a much wider selection of restaurants, hence a much wider choice of inexpensive but good eateries to choose from. That has been my experience as a local. Especially if one restaurant does not work out at the last second, in those arrondissements I do a Parn, which means I always have some backups nearby.
                            In those few arrondissements that visiting hounds think are "central", it is always a headache to find good eateries. Not to mention all the hounds who want to eat near the Louvre or in St Germain and also not want to hear English except their own. Those are requests from hell. (Well, no, the request from hell is when a "foodie" wants to eat "authentic" and "quaint" in St Germain but his spouse eats only non-gluten vitamin pills).
                            And you don't even have to go far, just in the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 14th, there are so much more to choose from. No locals would even consider those arrondissements geographicallyremote, but tourists think it's a walk on the wild side.
                            Barely outside tourist central, you have the 9th-18th rue des Martyrs axis where you can't throw a brick without hitting a good eatery.
                            Ditto in and around rue des Petites Ecuries.
                            Where are the rues des Gourmands in tourist-central ? The only street that comes to mind is the very very short Rue Guisarde, which is nearly it.
                            Maybe in the future around the Bourse, whose food scene is getting better all the time, most probably because of Jock's personal fengshui.

                            1. re: Parigi

                              I don't mind going out of my area, and I don't mind hearing english, so long as it's not only english and not a place solely built on catering to tourists. My goal is good food, language primarily spoken is not how I think that should be discerned.

                              Based on reccos so far, and my already made plans here are my thoughts:
                              Wed: arrival mid-morning, stick close to Saint Germain, have lunch there. Not really planning on a dinner, suspect I'll crash early.
                              Thursday: Already signed up for a ParisbyMouth tour so no need for lunch. Dinner someplace close to hotel.
                              Friday: Take bus 68 'south', Explore 14th, lunch there, possibly dinner.
                              Saturday: Take bus 68 'north'. Explore 9th, lunch there -maybe hit flea market, possibly dinner. (may flip with Fri).
                              Sunday: Hang out in Saint Germain, (possibly change current dinner reservation)
                              Monday: Bus 39 to rue Lecourbe for day, evening boat tour.
                              Tuesday: very early morning departure from hotel.

                              So that leaves me to search the boards for:
                              Lunch and Dinner Friday in the 14th,
                              Lunch and Dinner Sat in the 9th
                              Lunch Sunday in Saint Germain
                              Lunch Monday along rue Lecourbe

                              Okay, let me go search (and find out where FISH and Dans les Landes are :-) ) Oh, and probably change my Sunday reservation to someplace more highly recommended.

                              Thanks for all the input. I really appreciate the help.

                              A side, funny story. This past year my son went to France with his high school AP class. His main complaint? When they were in Paris, no one researched anything about where to eat and they just went to whatever was close to whatever sight they were booked to see that day. He didn't realize there were people who didn't plan were to eat, or at least have an idea of viable places before they headed out. He said he'd never again be stuck like that. Apple doesn't fall far from the tree with that one.

                              *edited for typos.

                          3. Hello Parisian hounds, I have a somewhat related question about holding reservations with credit cards and didn't want to start a thread on this issue. I, an American, do not have a chip and PIN card as is the norm in Europe. Do most Parisians accept our medieval swipe cards or am I stuck 1) carrying loads of cash/traveller checks or 2) acquiring a chip and PIN card?

                            Thank you in advance.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: granadafan

                              VISA cards, even with Medieval technology, are widely accepted. The others, not so much.

                              1. re: Parigi

                                Glad granadafan brought this up. I have a medieval VISA and an Amex with a chip. If one won't work, hopefully the other will.

                                1. re: AHA64

                                  My Amex got denied with regularity. I think Parigi is saying that VISA is generally accepted with and without a chip.

                                  Those handheld machines the waiters use will do both chip and non-chip (we called the latter slip cards as the waiter slips them through the machine) with a code entry.

                                  1. re: hychka

                                    Amex is often not taken France (and other countries) because it charges the merchants higher fees than other cards - so not a technology issue. If a restaurant does take it you may find they add a supplement for the higher fees. I know Amex has been working to change that but it's still a card that's less universal than MasterCard and Visa.

                                    France also used to use a system called "CarteBleu" which was a debit rather than a credit card and I believe the machines often didn't take credit cards. The new chip and and pin cards seem to avoid this issue.

                                  2. re: AHA64

                                    Hmm, I have a Wells Fargo Visa card. AHA64, I don't wish to hijack your thread. I can start a thread on this subject later. However, I did find the responses to your original question very informative. You've got a very nice plan, which we will do some research on. Our trip is at the end of August to a few days in September.

                                    1. re: granadafan

                                      As already stated, most Parisian restaurants have no problem swiping an American MasterCard or Visa credit card. (In the countryside an occasional restaurant or shop won't be able to handle it.) But if anyone is concerned, you can get a British Airways Chase Visa card - with a chip - for their annual fee of $95.
                                      Although it's not "chip & pin" (it's "chip & sign"), a shop or restaurant without a swipe machine can accept it. However it still won't work at a kiosk (gas station, métro, train), where you need a human to handle the transaction.

                                        1. re: granadafan

                                          granadafan - I just was online with Chase and they recently changed so that many of their new credit cards have/are available with a chip - without any additional fee (When I called two months ago about it, they were going to charge me a fee just to have a card with a chip, glad I called and asked again.). Not a chip and pin, but a chip and signature, still, might be handy.

                                          eta: At least this is true for their signature cards, not sure about all lines.