Reservations for Restaurants in Paris

Apr 29th, 2008, 09:03 PM
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Reservations for Restaurants in Paris

I have done what I thought was everything to get ready for our summer trip to France, but as I sit here just reading away at all the post it hits me that I have no reservations in Paris. In the past I have actually not had that good of meals, is this the reason? Do you plan your meals and get reservations or do you wing it?
jelane is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 12:01 AM
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If you like you can visit for a list of suggested bistros and good restaurants, many I've dined in myself and have written some comments other are quaint bistro away from tourist traps. You can also make an agenda of activities for museums and parks etc.
aliwallace is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 12:16 AM
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I don't eat in fancy restaurants so I have never reserved to eat in Paris. Anyway, I don't see how a reservation will make the food better. Were you turned away from restaurants because you didn't have a reservation and had to fall back on the greasy spoon next door?
analogue is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 01:16 AM
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Paris is full of tourist trap restaurants serving incredibly bad food. Typical indicators for bad restaurants are:

- photographs of their dishes on display,
- menus in several languages,
- no reservations required.

When I look for a restaurant in Paris, I look into the Red Michelin Guide, now available online:

Enter an address and tick "restaurants". And I always make a reservation, sometimes just an hour before we go to avoid an unpleasant surprise.

In France, it is common that one table is booked for the whole evening, because a proper meal lasts several hours. So unlike restaurants in USA, there is no waiting until a table gets free. If a restaurant is booked out for the evening, there is hardly any chance to get a table.

(There are exceptions: restaurants which have specialized in serving tourists. But for a French dining experience, I would not recommend them.)
traveller1959 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 01:41 AM
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Some of the restaurants are small. If you are traveling in early summer, it will most likely be crowded with more tourists visiting the city.
Reservations are probably a good idea, but at the very least, it would be advisable to research some restaurants on line. Look at the menus for what they serve and decide where you think you want to eat. Chowhound is a good site and many restaurants have websites. This forum has a plethora of information on restaurants.
On my recent trip , I knew I wanted to eat in the neighborhood I was staying, so I looked up restaurants in the 7e.
French food is delicious, but quite different than what most of us ( at least those of us from NY and NJ) are used to eating. Everyone is not necessarilly adventurous and can therfore be disappointed in their choices if they don't do their homework.
ladylyn915 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 01:47 AM
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I have never made reservations more than a day or two ahead in Paris, and usually I reserve the same day. Sometimes that means I can't get into a restaurant on the first try, but there are always lots of good options.

I like the Time Out Paris Eating and Drinking guide. Zagat's is also useful for Paris.
Nikki is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 04:50 AM
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The issue: to reserve or not to reserve, is one my husband and I have constantly disagreed about. I am preparing a post re: our 12 meals in Paris recently focusing not only on the food we ate but also on how we booked--or not--in order to eat at the various restaurants. I hope to be finished and have it posted today. It will be titled "Reserve ahead--or not" I hope you will find it helpful.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 04:56 AM
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We usually make reservations when we arrive by asking the hotel desk to call for us. If there is to be a very special meal (like DH's birthday) we asked Michael to make our reservations long in advance. You may have had bad meals because you just didn't look at a lot of recommendations and make the effort to follow them.
I take a number of recommendations, find the restaurant on mapquest, print out a map of where it is with the type of food, price point, metro, phone number, etc. and take it with us in a notebook. then make some decisions just before leaving or once in paris. We do not go to fancy places (once to Jules Verne and LOVED it), and do not spend exorbitantly on meals--but DO enjoy good food that is available with a little attention.
Gretchen is online now  
Apr 30th, 2008, 05:15 AM
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Nicely put, Gretchen. Good food that is available with a little attention. That says it all.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 05:34 AM
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I am much more careful about restaurant reservations in Vienna than in Paris (my favorite restaurants in Vienna are also the most likely to be booked up well in advance).

In Paris, I do make reservations, but seldom more than a couple of days in advance. My preference is for "cuisine grand-mère" and I tend to stick to a few favorites that I know provide it (example: Le Bistro Marbeuf in the 8th: ), a few slightly more contemporary places (like Terrasse Mirabeau in the 16th or Lei in the 7th). For those, I just drop in when I pass by and ask if I can get a table for that evening or the next.

For a summer trip, just keep a Michelin red guide handy so you can check when the owners take their vacation.
BTilke is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 05:54 AM
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I've travelled solo many times to Paris. so my experience is maybe out of the norm. I've never made a reservation. My last foru trips have been off-season (not June-August) so that will also have worked in my favor.

My preference is my nice/more expensive meal will be dinner, so I've tended to go to nicer places, but not "starred" restaurants.

I do try to be there when the restaurant opens for dinner, so 7:30-8.

I'm also trying to keep a list of restaurants based on what people have recommended here. I also like Time Out and Michelin red as good guides. I've seen Pudlo used by people and will be looking into that.

If I know I will be in a certain area/arrondissements, I'll have my list with me so that I have a few choices.

I've also winged it, gone looking for a place near my hotel. Since each restaurant posts its menu outside, I've used that as my criteria (as well as how it looks inside, lot of locals,etc..). Last trip I asked hotel to recommend, but their choices didn't match my needs. So I went to a busier street in the area and found a very nice fish place.

So, some people feel comfortable booking, and if you are at a hotel you can use them to either recommmend or book your choice(s). You might want to have a pre-arrival list to give you a hed start. There are places near St Michel that I'd avoid, unless you are a student in a budget
Michel_Paris is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 07:51 AM
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Thanks for all the advice. I just recieved a book I ordered Pudlo Paris. We will be staying three nights in the 1st across from Tuleries and two night in the 6th two weeks later so I do have time to sort this out. And you are correct in that good with a little attention. Thanks again.
jelane is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 08:07 AM
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Pudlo is terrific. I used it for most of my picks on our last trip to Paris. Just posted my report from that which is loaded with info on places in the 6th. I like bistros and in the 1st I recommend Willi's Wine Bar, L'Epi d'Or and Le Dauphin from among those Pudlo lists there.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 01:09 PM
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Julie did you have reservations at those places? I know reservations are good for those special places but when in Paris and this year we will have daughter and granddaughter with us, I just hate to be pinned down to an area and time....thanks, I am going to mark these in the Pudlo book.
jelane is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 01:13 PM
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Yes, I had reservations at Le Dauphin and at Willi's. We did not at L'Epi d'Or and we were a party of 7, but that was a few years ago. If you haven't already done so, read my post To reserve--or not: Dining in Paris, etc. It details how the reservation or not business turned out on our recent trip.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
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