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jakubc

How far in advance to make reservations in Paris?

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We had lunch today at Guy Savoy - great lunch - best meal of the trip.  And I would be pretty sure you don't have to reserve 1 1/2 months in advance.  Robyn

The times listed here refer to "friday dinner for two" reservations. Lunch reservations delays (and weekday dinners, to a lesser extent) are usually much shorter.

Based on the few restaurants I [tried to go to/went to], the list seems fairly accurate.

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We tend to avoid Friday/Saturday dinners whether at home or abroad. Friday night we had room service - and Saturday we dined at the hotel (if your hotel has a good restaurant - and ours did - it is usually easier to dine there on a weekend than elsewhere). I can tell you that some of the evidence for my statement is anecdotal and/or based on some personal observations. Anyway - if you can reserve in advance - do. And - if you can't - there's no harm in trying in terms of securing a last minute reservation. Robyn

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For Spring, I tried to secure a reservation on the 22 July 2008 for a Friday night, and I need to wait until mid november, so the wait is a bit less than 4 months.

As for l'Ami Jean, I have succeed a reservation just 2 days before for a Thursday night dinner.

Actually, to my surprise, I saw some relatively hot resturants, the weekdays can be quite calm, maybe because of the economy and the anti-smoking laws.

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Just some general impressions. I do agree about the economy and the anti-smoking laws. I think Spring may be largely an English speaking chatboard phenomenon in terms of the difficulty in getting reservations (at a small place which is closed almost more often than it is open). Perhaps the food is good - but it is easier to get reservations at high end 3 star restaurants than Spring. Doesn't make much sense to me.

As for l'Ami Jean - it had been recommended to us - but we passed by the place by accident one afternoon while walking in the neighborhood. It is tight and cramped inside and looked uncomfortable to me. Especially if it is trying to do 2-3 turns per table per night. Perhaps it is a question of my age (over 60) and my dining sensibilities (I enjoy being at least a bit pampered and having some "space") - but it was definitely not my cup of tea. At least not for dinner.

If I want to be crowded among a lot of other people - I much prefer a cafe setting for late afternoon/early evening drinks. We went to Les Philosophes (?) in the Marais Sunday evening for drinks outside after a day of sightseeing. Elbow to elbow under the canopy with some heat lamps watching the light drizzle with lots of other people who also wanted an early evening drink and a cigarette. It was a very friendly atmosphere - we talked with lots of people - and we had a good time. The cafe also seems to have a relationship with a cab company - so it is no problem flagging a cab without paying a "show up" fee when you're prepared to leave - kind of unusual for Paris.

Note that one should not try any of these cafes outside unless one isn't offended by cigarette smoke (I smoke so I liked them - but I heard complaints from some American guests at our hotel). Also - in the Marais - I would be a little careful about the "vibe" of a place. It is the GLBT heart of Paris - and there are perhaps places where couples like me and my husband are not welcome. That was not the case in this cafe. But I am sure that there are places where people like us would feel uncomfortable (based on some pictures I saw in the windows of some places). We are not into leather bars :wink: . Robyn

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Dear Robyn,

Spring is very small. The entire menu is half the price of a first course in a three star restaurant.

Of course it is easier to get a reservation in a three star restaurant- it will also cost six times as much money.

Just to clarify: Most of my customers (at dinner) are French and don't know a thing about chatboards. We see most of our customers about once or twice a month so the place is effectively full of regulars who book a table every few weeks. We are also open 5 days a week which seems to me more often open than closed...

The restaurant has been full since September 7th until February 6th. Lunch is still available about a week in advance.

Just some general impressions.  I do agree about the economy and the anti-smoking laws.  I think Spring may be largely an English speaking chatboard phenomenon in terms of the difficulty in getting reservations (at a small place which is closed almost more often than it is open).  Perhaps the food is good - but it is easier to get reservations at high end 3 star restaurants than Spring.  Doesn't make much sense to me.

As for l'Ami Jean - it had been recommended to us - but we passed by the place by accident one afternoon while walking in the neighborhood.  It is tight and cramped inside and looked uncomfortable to me.  Especially if it is trying to do 2-3 turns per table per night.  Perhaps it is a question of my age (over 60) and my dining sensibilities (I enjoy being at least a bit pampered and having some "space") - but it was definitely not my cup of tea.  At least not for dinner.

If I want to be crowded among a lot of other people - I much prefer a cafe setting for late afternoon/early evening drinks.  We went to Les Philosophes (?) in the Marais Sunday evening for drinks outside after a day of sightseeing.  Elbow to elbow under the canopy with some heat lamps watching the light drizzle with lots of other people who also wanted an early evening drink and a cigarette.  It was a very friendly atmosphere - we talked with lots of people - and we had a good time.  The cafe also seems to have a relationship with a cab company - so it is no problem flagging a cab without paying a "show up" fee when you're prepared to leave - kind of unusual for Paris.

Note that one should not try any of these cafes outside unless one isn't offended by cigarette smoke (I smoke so I liked them - but I heard complaints from some American guests at our hotel).  Also - in the Marais - I would be a little careful about the "vibe" of a place.  It is the GLBT heart of Paris - and there are perhaps places where couples like me and my husband are not welcome.  That was not the case in this cafe.  But I am sure that there are places where people like us would feel uncomfortable (based on some pictures I saw in the windows of some places).  We are not into leather bars  :wink: .  Robyn

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Hello Daniel - Thank you for replying. I am not sure how it is possible to have regulars when dinner has to be booked months in advance. Although I live in a place that is certainly not anywhere near Paris standards in terms of food - I couldn't be a regular at a restaurant if I had to book months in advance. I am not even sure I could dine at a restaurant in a country far from home where I was a visitor if I had to book 6 months in advance (because of scheduling vacation time - hotel and air bookings - etc.). Anyway - it is food for thought.

As a note - I have read elsewhere that you would like to take a trip to Japan one of these days/months/years. We spent 3 weeks there in 2006 - and enjoyed it a lot. If you do go - write me a personal message or email (just click on my name to find me) - and I will be glad to put you in contact with the people/restaurants we know/met/found there. We loved the country - and the food - and would be glad to share what we discovered with you (or anyone else planning a trip there). Robyn

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Hello! Looking for some very basic answers regarding dining in Paris. I'm going for the first time and realized I only have three weeks left to plan.

It seems like reservations are recommended at most restaurants (ex. l'Os a Moelle and Cave du l'Os a Moelle, Aux Lyonnais, Le Troquet/Le Cantine du Troquet...)

How far in advance should I call for a reservation -- immediately, or a few days beforehand, or is it relatively easy to get same-day reservations? We have a small party (3-4 people).

I have a long list of restaurants I'd like to try, so we can be flexible with reservations-- there isn't anyplace I absolutely have to get into.

While in town I imagine our meals will be a combination of:

- 1 or 2 lunches at a 3-star Michelin place (to satisfy my curiosity)...I'm thinking Arpege and/or Gagnaire -- I assume I will have to book these tables ASAP.

- Lunches at more casual places like the ones I named above.

- Picnics, so I can buy food at markets/bakeries and take advantage of beautiful green spaces (near the Eiffel Tower, in the Jardin du Luxembourg, etc.)

- Small dinners... in restaurants? Where would you recommend having dinner? Lunch seems to be the big meal of the day.

Sound good? Thanks in advance.

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Hi Diann,

I think your plan sounds like a good one. I definitely would recommend reservations in most restaurants, some you will only need to reserve a few days in advance, others (like Arpege) should be reserved weeks in advance. You can try to book the same day, but in my experience, you may have trouble getting in to the best places if you reserve last minute ,so it is better to reserve a few days earlier when possible. Lunch I assume should be a little easier than dinner on a Friday or Saturday night.

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Honestly, those days, only few places need reservations a long time ahead. Of course friday and saturday night still tend to be full more often than the other days, but in my recent experience, only places like le Chateaubriand or l'Astrance are still really hard to get.

This is not to say that you should not reserve in advance -- just that you also have a lot of last minutes options, and it's always smarter because then you can match your meals with your actual envies rather than what you planned months ahead. Nothing worse, in my opinion, than going to a restaurant when you're not in the mood.

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Honestly, those days, only few places need reservations a long time ahead. Of course friday and saturday night still tend to be full more often than the other days, but in my recent experience, only places like le Chateaubriand or l'Astrance are still really hard to get.

This is not to say that you should not reserve in advance -- just that you also have a lot of last minutes options, and it's always smarter because then you can match your meals with your actual envies rather than what you planned months ahead. Nothing worse, in my opinion, than going to a restaurant when you're not in the mood.

Don't be afraid to chance it. A few years ago in December, my wife and I got into Arpège for lunch as walk-ins after spending the morning at the Rodin museum down the street. The restaurant was empty except for three other tables (government officials and journalists). Passard came into the dining room during service to taste caviar with a sales rep. We split a tasting menu and had wine by the glass. The prices were ridiculous (500 euros). The food was good but not the best I've ever had. I remember a roasted beet. I think it was 20 euros à la carte. The waiter gave us a loaf of their very good bread to take away.


Edited by George Baugh (log)

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Hi Diann,

I think your plan sounds like a good one. I definitely would recommend reservations in most restaurants, some you will only need to reserve a few days in advance, others (like Arpege) should be reserved weeks in advance.  You can try to book the same day, but in my experience, you may have trouble getting in to the best places if you reserve last minute ,so it is better to reserve a few days earlier when possible.  Lunch I assume should be a little easier than dinner on a Friday or Saturday night.

I never, well hardly ever, disagree with my charming cohost, but if the truth be known, while her advice is sage - (that is, reserve for the biggies - Arpege and/or Gagnaire weeks ahead), and I ALWAYS reserve, even for coffee at my ratty bar/cafe, right now, places are empty at night and half-full at lunch and at places like l'Os a Moelle and Cave du l'Os a Moelle, Aux Lyonnais, Le Troquet one can do it once here and unless things have changed, Le Cantine du Troquet + Cafe Constant take no rez's.
Lunch seems to be the big meal of the day.

As folks who read between the lines know I eat out 99% of the time at lunch and cook for myself at night (unless Colette or Deb are favoring me) and I think this is the way to go, but then I'm not sure which is my day and night job.

So as for

Picnics, so I can buy food at markets/bakeries and take advantage of beautiful green spaces (near the Eiffel Tower, in the Jardin du Luxembourg, etc.)
you bet, and while you'll need to hide it more at the Parc Monceau, do it.

The bottom line is that you're in Paris, it's great, you'll not starve anywhere and well, life is short but flavorful (and the asparagus and tomatoes and spring cheeses are in).

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I never, well hardly ever, disagree with my charming cohost, but if the truth be known, while her advice is sage - (that is, reserve for the biggies - Arpege and/or Gagnaire weeks ahead), and I ALWAYS reserve, even for coffee at my ratty bar/cafe, right now, places are empty at night and half-full at lunch and at places like l'Os a Moelle and Cave du l'Os a Moelle, Aux Lyonnais, Le Troquet one can do it once here and unless things have changed, Le Cantine du Troquet + Cafe Constant take no rez's.

Actually I agree with all of the advice above. I always make reservations but hardly ever do in advance and most often wait until the very last minute. Unfortunately, that strategy has left me calling my 2nd and 3rd choices on more than one occassion (the most recent was a Saturday night not long ago around 18h00 and I ended up only being able to get a table at 19h15 or something like that after calling several places). As Julot said, it really depends on the restaurant and the night.

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If one is traveling from far away - and definitely wants to eat in certain places - there is certainly no harm in making a reservation weeks in advance to avoid disappointment.

As for picnics - be sure to stake out *where* you will eat before you buy your food. We bought some stuff in the Marais which looked good - and then had a hard time finding a place to eat it. Robyn

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