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How to Make a Reservation in French

Instructor: AJ Dana-Yoblonski

Dual citizen of France and Canada. Journalist - French print media (L'Obs, Paris Match, Le Parisien, ...) / Private tutor (grammar: English, French, Latin; literature) / Institutional communications officer

Hotel rooms, restaurants, ski passes: if you're travelling to France, making reservations ahead of time might turn out to be a huge time-saver. In this lesson, we'll go over the basic vocabulary that will help you do that.

Anniversary Trip

Finally, you and your siblings Matt and Nicole agree on what to offer your parents for their 35th wedding anniversary: a trip to France! 'We'll let you organize it, because, you see, we wouldn't know where to start,' said Matt and Nicole just as they were leaving your place after purchasing the plane tickets. So you're on your own!

Perhaps you should start with booking the hotel rooms. You pick your favorite in the center of Paris, right on the Ile-Saint-Louis. A charming place. You start writing your email to the hotel booking staff, but what do you say after Bonjour? First, you present yourself by giving your name and explaining that you want to book a room for your parents: Je suis Cynthia McPherson, je souhaite faire une réservation pour mes parents.

Let's go over a few basic words that you might want to keep in mind:

French Pronunciation Meaning
une réservation u-ne ray-zh-r-va-see-an a booking, a reservation
faire une réservation feh-r u-ne ray-zh-r-va-see-an to make a booking, a reservation
réserver ray-zeh-r-vay to book

The verb souhaiter + infinitive verb is a polite and formal way of saying 'to wish to do something.'

What can you book?

French Pronunciation Meaning
une chambre d'hôtel u-ne sh-on-br d-o-teh-l a hotel room
une table au restaurant u-ne ta-bl o reh-sto-ron a table at a restaurant
des places day pla-s seats (for a movie, a play, a show...)

Pour Deux

Back to your email: you want to give as many details as possible. You don't want to book just any chambre. You want:

  • une chambre pour deux (u-ne sh-om-br poo-r dö): a room for two
  • avec vue sur la Seine (a-veh-k vu sur la Seh-n): with a view on the Seine river

Put it all together, and here's what you can say: Je souhaite réserver une chambre pour deux avec vue sur la Seine..., meaning that you want to book a room for two with a view on the Seine river.

Avec vue sur la Tour Eiffel
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Length of Stay

How can you say you wish to book for 5 nights? Just add: ...pour 5 nuits (poo-r s-uhn-k nu-ee). Piece of advice: in French, shortened dates go by day/month/year and not month/day/year as in North America. You should always write the full dates for the booking, using one simple expression: du + check-in date + au + check-out date.

For instance, if you're booking the room from March 12th to March 17th, you can write: Je souhaite réserver une chambre pour deux avec vue sur la Seine pour cinq nuits, du 12 au 17 mars 2017.

Du 12 au 17 mars
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Meals

If you want to include meals in the booking, you can add: en pension complète (on pon-see-an kon-pleh-t), which literally means 'full pension.' This type of forfait includes meals in the booking.

Payment

Most often, you'll be paying upon check-out. Because it's a surprise for your parents' anniversary, you want to pay for the room beforehand. Here's what you can say: Je souhaiterais payer pour la chambre dès que possible.: Considering this is a surprise for my parents, I'd like to pay for the room as soon as possible.

Let's go over some key vocabulary about payment.

French Pronunciation Meaning
la facture la fak-tu-r the bill
l'addition l-a-dee-see-an the bill (at a restaurant)
payer pour pay-yay poo-r to pay for (something)
régler la facture ray-glay la fak-tu-r to pay a bill
dès que possible deh kö po-see-bl as soon as possible
payer en carte bleue pay-yay on kar-t blö to pay by card
payer en espèces pay-yay on eh-speh-s to pay cash
payer en chèque pay-yay on sh-eh-k to pay by check
le paiement lö peh-mon the payment

Careful! When you pay for a bill, you don't say payer une facture in French, but régler une facture, as follows:

Je souhaiterais régler la facture dès que possible: I'd like to pay the bill as soon as possible.

Payer en carte bleue
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