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Lunch Hours - 12-2pm in Paris - do doors close at 2 or last reservation at 2?

We'll be in Paris in May and notice lunch hours 12-2 pm. Does this mean restaurant closes at 2 or that the last lunch reservation is taken at 2 and you'll likely be there another 1 1/2 hrs?

This is crucial to our planning.
Thanks so much world travelers.
Pat

Posted by
796 posts

It means lunch is served beginning at noon and they close lunch down at 2. Be there at noon if you can. The French relax and enjoy long lunches.

Posted by
11263 posts

In addition to what Terri Lynn said, restaurants are more likely than they are in the US to have only one seating. In other words, if someone was at a table from noon to 1:30, they are not necessarily going to seat you at that table if you come in at 1:35 (even if the sign out front says they're open until 2:30 or 3).

However, there are plenty of places to get food between 2 PM (the "end" of lunch) and 7 PM (the "start" of dinner). If you want a formal, sit down restaurant, that works better if you plan to eat at standard times (12-2 and 7-10). Many people don't start their dinner until 8. If you want crepes, or Chinese, or sandwiches, or souvlaki, or pizza, you can eat at any time.

Posted by
7600 posts

If it's a chef-owned or small restaurant that takes reservations, 1:00 would be the later limit. I've seen tourists come into some places like Polidor, a place that's become real touristy, at 1:30 and get served, but not Parisians. Some well-known places have been bought by corporations but kept the original name. They are much looser and don't care when you arrive as long as you are spending your money--unlike a private or chef-owned restaurant.

Posted by
4666 posts

If you do find yourself looking for a late lunch, restaurants that offer a full meal service outside the usual times will often have a sign on the exterior saying "service continu" ("continuous service").

Posted by
6541 posts

2 pm means you should be able to go in as late as 1:45 and be seated and have lunch. Parisians don't really go to lunch until 1 pm . . . .