I'm leaving for Paris in a few weeks time and have been scrambling trying to get the itinerary together. When I travel, the sights are secondary to the food and shopping. In fact, I have been known to shallowly reject prospective vacation sites because they were deficient in the latter two categories. Given that Paris has an abundant selection of options for both food and shopping, I find myself a little overwhelmed as to where to go for both; however, after some research and consultation with knowledgeable friends decided to make reservations via E-mail at three well-known restaurants, and here's what I found:
1. Pierre Gagnaire: www.pierre-gagnaire.com (French-only website that I could tell); luckily, I recognized the word "Contact" in the titles and clicked on that. I E-mailed them a few months ago only to receive a reply that they do not take reservations more than one month in advance; please E-mail again at that point. I followed instructions, exactly E-mailing them a month from the date I wanted; after no response over four days, I try again. Finally, I get a response. The day I selected was booked. So I try again with another date. Success! Now, please fill out the attached form with your hotel information AND your credit card information to confirm the reservation. I duly fill it out and return it. No response to my request for confirmation of receipt. I try again. Auto-reply stating that the restaurant is closed for a week. Still waiting....
2. Taillevent: www.taillevent.com (English option on the website). I wrongly assumed that they followed Gagnaire's practice of only one month in advance; so I try one month to the day only to be informed (albeit, in an extremely friendly E-mail) that they are booked solid for dinner reservations for one month past the time we'll be there, BUT they would gladly welcome us for lunch. Great! Same request for information although no CC information, BUT I must call the morning of my reservation before 10 a.m. otherwise my reservation will be canceled. Since our reservation is on a Monday, and they are closed on Sundays, I must remind myself to call the morning of. Now let's just hope they'll pick up the phone at that time.
3. La Tour d'Argent-www.latourdargent.com, (English option available) -the fastest and friendliest response out of the three. No CC information needed nor form for reply. I had made a mistake about our arrival date and had to modify the reservation, and they got back to me almost immediately accommodating my request for the change. I requested a table overlooking the Seine and the Notre Dame as had been advised and was told they would do their best to accommodate my request. They also attached a PDF of their menu to boot. I am merely requested to confirm my reservation sometime after my arrival; no timeframe specified.
The plus to reserving with the above three is that I was able to communicate in English via E-mail, saving myself the agony of trying to speak very poor French on the telephone with phrase book in hand. Let's just hope that I remember to avoid "ris de veau" (sweetbreads) on my visit.