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What is the best dining times to avoid crowds?

What is the best dining times to avoid crowds?

Old Jan 21st, 2008, 07:45 AM
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What is the best dining times to avoid crowds?

I was wondering what is the best dining times to avoid the busiest time at a restaurant for Dinner?

I want to try a few evening restaurants when we go to Paris but I hate restaurants when they are at their peak time. We can go early or late but wanted a rule of thumb to see when was a good time.

When we are in Florida (for example) we eat at either 5 or 8:15...seems to work for us there but was wondering if Paris has a different time that would work for us.

Thanks
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 08:13 AM
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Well, people in Paris tend to dine fairly late as compared to in the USA, so if you show up when a restaurant opens, usually 7 or 7:30, you're less likely to hit crowds.

I must say I find it a bit odd to worry about "crowds," though. Can't say as I've ever been in a French restaurant where I thought it was a mob scene...usually quiet even when the restaurant is full.
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 08:19 AM
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Not sure how I'm supposed to know this is France apart from the Paris clue but I guess Fodor knows best.

The french only have to work a 35 hour week. So kitchen staff have to managed around that. The result can be confusing as it may limit the number of sittings.

Eating at 5:30 is unlikely unless you are afer the basic dishes in a brasserie/bar. My suggestion is go for 8. Due to the above pint I tend to book if eating French but find ethnic food places far more open to the walk in.

St Cirq is right a 7pm would be early so the rabble (I've never seen that either) will not be there.

In some of the better brasseries where booking is mandatory I've blagged my way in at 6:20 much to the Maitre de's frustration
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 08:34 AM
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Agree that european don't eat dinner at 5 in the afternoon. Restaurants won;t be open then - only cafes or perhaps casuale brasseries. If you go at 7:30 you will be among the earliest there in most place - but the crowds will follow (any restaurant that isn;t filling it's tables is probably not someplace you want to eat.)

Also - note that restaurants have set lunch hours - usually open at 12 but not filled until 1 pm and closed again by 3 pm.

If you just want a sandwich or a snack you can go into a cafe, which usually serves all day.
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 09:14 AM
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I'll ditto that. I aim for 7:30ish whenever I eat out. Before that they are ususally not open (at times because staff having their dinner). I also do not bother with reservations, which has not ever cuase me any issues. Mind you, my last trips to France have not been in July/August, which may affect some of my above statements.

I'm also a solo traveller, but have never felt pressure to leave once seated. You can enjoy your meal at your leisure.

Some restos are open 24 a day (Chez Denise, for example), and brasseries will serve food over wider hours than a resto.

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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 09:16 AM
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If you dine at 5 at a nice restaurant in Paris, you'll probably get there a couple of hours before the restaurant even opens, unless it's a tourist oriented place. If you arrive at 8:15 - that's when other diners start to arrive. Like St Cirq said, Parisians dine late - 9:30-10 is a normal dining time for them.

We dine at about 40 restaurants in France each year. In the countryside, we make reservations for 8 and arrive at 7:45 (Cote d'Azur places like Nice & St Tropez are the exception - we dine later). In Paris, we make reservations at 8:30 & arrive at 8:15. Usually, we're amung the earliest diners & have our choice of tables.

Like St Cirq also mentions (BTW, she has a second home in the Dordogne in France) restaurants in France and especially in the countryside are a LOT quieter than restaurants in cities in the US like San Francisco (where I live). We LOVE the quietness of places in France where we can actually carry on a conversation while dining.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 09:23 AM
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I'd also suggest getting some place as soon as it is open, if you want to avoid crowds. You can't get there any earlier, obviously, and if you go really late, they may not be serving certain things any more, in my experience.

As early as possible would be 7 or 7:30, probably, you'd have to find out when a place opens. If you only take an hour to eat, you probably could be done by the time it is getting busy. That doesn't really bother me except in some restaurants where the tables are so close together, it can be more comfortable when it isn't so busy. In some restaurants, it doesn't really make any difference if there is lots of space.
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Old Jan 21st, 2008, 09:34 AM
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Great...I love 7 to 7:30. That will work out great for us. The only reason we eat at 5 in Florida is to miss the crowds but I love 7pm.

I can not imagine eating at 10 pm while on vacation though as by then, I am so worn out from the day, I am ready for bed.

Thanks all...
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Old Jan 23rd, 2008, 03:17 AM
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I'm surprised at people who make a reservation for 7.30 or 8 and arrive EARLY. Here, in the Perigord (Dordogne) most people would arrive 15 minutes later rather than earlier. Le petit quart d'heure Perigourdin in this area, though I gather every region has its 'quart d'heure'

The nice thing about most French restaurants though is that you have the table for the night - they usually only have one sitting. And it's quiet. I'm afraid the only times I haven't enjoyed a meal because of loud conversation it's been British (or even Americans) disturbing the peace.
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