Please sign in to post.

Questions Regarding Restaurant Reservations and Rental Cars

Couple of questions for the group as I finish up planning for our trip coming up:
1). How necessary are reservations for restaurants? I am seeing differing opinions in online information. We will be in Paris, Normandy, Loire Valley, Beaune, and Reims if this helps. I don't want to be scrambling to find a place to eat but also don't want to be so strictly planned out that we are rushing to make a lunch or dinner reservation.
2.) On rental car reservations, is the price quoted inclusive of liability insurance? I see the options of including CDW and all the other related add-ons but do not see an add on for liability coverage.

Thanks in advance for any responses.

Posted by
22278 posts

Our experience with reservations especially at the slightly better restaurants is that reservations are expected and service is better. Again, it is our experience between just walking up and having a reservation. Second, we rarely make it more than few hours in advance. Sometimes we are walking by the restaurant around noon or early afternoon and will make the reservation for that evening. And sometimes we make it the day before. One time I did make it around 5pm for a 7.30. You would have thought we were very VIPs when we showed up that evening. There was a small line of waiting people gather around the entrance. As we walked up he made eye contact and immediately said, "How good to see you. Your table is ready. Right this way" as we bush by the waiting people. Obviously he remember us for two hours earlier as he didn't ask for a name. The few times we have walked up, we seem to get that odd table by the kitchen door. So we always make reservations.

Posted by
1316 posts

When is your trip, and how many are in your group? That may make a difference for reservations. If it is between now and December, know that this may be “off season” for some of those places. We were in Bayeux in late November 2019 and about half of shops and restaurants were closed for the off season. They would re-open early December. This meant all the remaining restaurants that were open were more crowded. If you want to eat at a certain place, make a reservation, even if it’s the same day.

Near Utah & Omaha beaches EVERYTHING was closed, including restaurants right next to museums. We drove through a village near Utah Beach and found a boulangerie that had ham & cheese croissants for an emergency picnic in the car. The owner said that ALL restaurants in the town were closed for the season.

Also keep in mind that many restaurants close from about 2pm to 6pm. So if you miss looking much and get hungry at 3:30, you might be out of luck.

As for the car rental, you need to read the small print very carefully. Also check your credit card company to see what coverage they offer.

Posted by
7017 posts

We almost never reserve for lunch unless we are doing a really special meal; but you do better for dinner if you reserve at least a day ahead (and for well known or starred restaurants you may need weeks -- but for small local places a day or even noon for that evening often suffices). We always reserve for dinner at 8 and unlike a lunch reservation that doesn't create time pressure -- ya gotta eat.

There are lots of lousy restaurants; they are easy to walk into without reservations -- it does pay to book ahead a little.

Posted by
2272 posts
  1. Reservations at cafés are generally not required. I always reserve at restaurants. If you do not reserve and attempt to "wing it", you will miss a lot of fabulous dinning.

  2. Liability insurance is included, by law, in all rentals.

Posted by
15 posts

My experience is much like Frank’s. I always reserve for dinner, even if just in the afternoon the day of. Our welcome is always that of an invited guest rather than a drop-in guest. It matters.

Which isn’t to say you won’t dine in a restaurant without a reservation, but you’ll get a nicer welcome when you reserve.

Posted by
7017 posts

Lisa -- a contrast. Years ago our landlord in Limeuil asked if we wanted him to make dinner reservations for our first night and we agreed. There was really only one nice restaurant in this tiny village and it had a lovely wisteria covered terrace as well as a dining room. Because we had reservations we sat on this lovely terrace with a charming view under the wisteria -- while those without ended up in the stifling hot dining room.

Posted by
5416 posts

We've had pretty much the same experience as Frank and HappyToBeHere. In Reims some years ago, we were routinely turned away from restaurants when we had no reservations, and even making a same day reservation was difficult. Now, that was on a holiday weekend; other people report not having any trouble.

In France and Italy this year, we were always warmly welcomed when we had reservations, and occasionally had trouble finding a place to eat when we didn't.

I'd make reservations for dinner, but not worry about lunch.

Posted by
1019 posts

Hi from Wisconsin,
Let me summarize the food reservation question. Without a reservation you can usually (I hate to say, always) find a place to eat, but it most likely won't be special. If you find a restaurant in your price range that has great reviews, book it, Danno. I learned a long time ago (1973) when faced with two fish and chip shops, one has a line and the other doesn't. Don't save time by going to the no line shop.

Car rental. Of course consult you credit card for rental insurance coverage. That credit card coverage will cut you rental cost by a lot. You must make all card transactions involving the car rental with the same card. Don't use one card making the reservation from your computer at home. Then show up to finalize the rental with a different card. A second way to cut costs is to rent at your first stop out side of Paris. It is not that Paris is more expensive. If you are planning Paris to Caen. Take a train there and avoid two things, driving in Paris and a day's rental cost. If you are planning to spend time in Paris and then two nights in Chartres. rent the car in Chartres. At least look into it. It is my believe that dead head charges, dropping your car of at an office other than where you picked the car up, are not permitted.

wayne iNWI

Posted by
12 posts

Wayne---We are doing exactly your first scenario. Taking a train to Caen after Paris and picking our car up there. I have found I can then drop it off at CDG---albeit with a charge for doing so.