I’m excited. It’s three months today until we next head to France. The ‘three months until we go’ date is always a special milestone for me as it signals two things – firstly, that I am officially allowed to start the countdown and secondly, that what I like to call the ‘booking window’ is about to open.
So what is the ‘booking window’? Well, most online reservation forms only allow you to book within a three month period of your planned activity – hence the booking window. Using only internet access and a little bit of forward planning you can virtually guarantee that you will get to do exactly what you want to do while you are in France…and sometimes at the best price.
By way of example, let’s assume you’d like to dine in a Michelin starred restaurant while you are travelling. We’ve secured window seats at Le Jules Verne twice just by reserving our table exactly three months from the date we wanted to dine. The view as we ate lunch on the second level of the Tour Eiffel more than compensated for the fact that we had work out what we would be doing so far in advance. As an aside, don’t let anyone tell you that Le Jules Verne is a tourist trap – the food is at least as good as the views and the lunch menu provides excellent value for money. We took the same approach when making reservations at Taillevent and when we booked our window side table for an unforgettable dining experience at Paul Bocuse.
With regard to restaurant bookings, I have one additional tip if you do want a specific table – make your request in French. Given my dreadful French, I use online translation tools to help me write my request in French and then copy it into the ‘Special Requests’ or ‘Comments’ field in the form. Remember to be succinct though – sometimes those fields only take a small number of characters.
When it comes to transport, we’ve also managed to get some bargain first class train fares by booking online as soon as bookings for our travel dates become available in the system. In fact, we’ve always been a bit shocked at how much more expensive tickets can be when booked closer to the departure date.
Now I recognise that the concept of the ‘booking window’ will not work everyone. For instance, it won’t appeal to travellers who’d rather not plan out their days so far in advance or who prefer to wing just about all of their time in France. But for travellers who like to get the best seats in restaurants or the cheapest fares on transport I recommend you take advantage of the ‘booking window’.
Until next time – au revoir.