Common Reservation Mistakes
Even the most seasoned food travellers make these common mistakes on their fabulous food trip to Paris. Follow these tips to keep from being disappointed …
#1 – Booking Accommodations Too Far From Restaurants:
Do yourself a favor before you book a hotel or rent an apartment. Look at a map, see where you’ll be spending most of your eating time and then choose a base – or you are going to be spending a fortune on Uber and lost time criss crossing the city. Odds are your wish list of restaurants are clustered in only one or two areas. Go sightseeing during the day, get home, kick off your shoes, relax, freshen up, and then walk a short distance to & from your evening plans. It takes a lot of stress off of racing to get across Paris to your reservations on time.
#2 – Over-scheduling Reservations:
As much as you are my hero for scheduling a marathon-eating spree through the city, it happens every time – French food overload. If you aren’t used to eating 2 big meals each day at home, be realistic, you won’t be able to do it here either. Think your days, naps, and jet lag recovery time through or you’ll need to cancel those coveted reservations because you just couldn’t do it.
#3 – Not Making Reservations / Not Having A Short List:
I get it; you don’t want to be tied down to reservations. Then it happens. After a long day of sightseeing you end up walking around looking for a good place to eat and discover that even the small casual places have been reserved for weeks and/or the “no reservation” places have long lines out the door. Why waste the time and energy winging it when you can plan better? This is when I go back to the first two tips, look at a map and have a short list of places in your hood or at least make one strategic reservation each day.
#4 – Not Knowing the Closing Days:
Most restaurants are NOT open 7 days a week. They are closed two days each week, mostly on weekends & or on Sunday and Mondays. In addition, in summer, there is a 4-6 week national holiday where the entire country leaves in mass exodus around July 14th to the first week of September. Throughout the year, there are several “vacances scolaire” holidays, essentially school breaks when the entire family packs up and goes skiing or to the beach. This means owners and employees are on holiday and not working, so a lot of restaurants are closed. Research the holiday/school vacation calendars first to save yourself time & disappointment. For summer 2017, this is my list of where to eat in Paris in August.
#5 – Not Knowing Restaurant Hours:
I see it often. Customers walk into a restaurant with no reservations at 1:45pm asking to be seated because it closes at 2pm – only to be baffled when told that they can’t be seated. Don’t take it personally. The customers around you are finishing dessert but the kitchen staff have left for their mandated afternoon break. They legally can’t stay in the kitchen for more hours than they are scheduled to cook another long meal. Only the front of house service staff are still there to work through to the end of the dessert, coffee and payment shift.
Standard lunch hours are between noon – 2 pm (with the last order in to the kitchen by 1:45pm) and dinner 8 – 10pm (with the last order in to the kitchen by 9:45pm). Restaurants also use military time: 13h (1pm) or 20h30 (8:30pm). Of course there are exceptions, but this is generally the rule.
#6- Looking For A Restaurant To Sit Down To Eat Between Lunch & Dinner:
The French have been taught since they were kids to sit down to eat lunch & dinner at observed meal hours. They don’t skip meals and look for food when they feel like it later, because as you’ve just learned above, restaurants are are only open during set hours. Sure, some people have no choice but to grab sandwiches on the fly, but it is an exception, not the rule. If you miss lunch or dinner, you’ll be surprised to find cafes and etc. only serving snacks and drinks.
#7 – Taking Restaurant Suggestions From Folks Who Don’t Share Your Taste or Budget:
So your co-worker, neighbour, or concierge tells you their favourite place to eat in Paris. Then you go, only to be disappointed. Stop to consider the source and ask “why?” Do they share your taste and budget? Are they meat eaters and you are a vegetarian? In each of my restaurant suggestions on this site, I tell you what the restaurant is, and what it isn’t, so that you know what to expect before reserving.
#8 – Being Intimidated To Call For Reservations:
Not all restaurants use on line bookings – so you are going to have to call if you don’t use a concierge (send them your restaurant wish list when you book the hotel). But fear not, most places speak enough English to help you take your booking. The basic information they’ll want to know is which day, date and time, number of people, your family name and a contact telephone number.