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French Language Lessons: Making Dinner Reservations

Steve Cohen

This section presents the essentials of making a restaurant reservation by phone. The idea of conducting business on the phone in French may seem intimidating, but remember:

  • reserving in advance, even the same day, may make the difference between getting a table or not, especially in the more popular restaurants, and
  • hand gestures aren't very helpful with this one, so it isn't really much harder on the phone than in person.

You can listen to the lesson.

Notes on Pronunciation

French words tend to be accented lightly on the last syllable or the last syllable of a group of words. In rare instances for emphasis or where this is not the case, an accented syllable will be indicated by ALL CAPS. Liaisons are indicated by red, italicized initial consonants (e.g. "Puis-je vous aider?" pronounced as "pwee-zhuh voo zeh-day"). See Guide to Transliteration for more information.

Reservations Vocabulary

ENGLISH FRENCH SAY IT LIKE THIS

to make a reservation

faire une réservation

fehr ewn ray-zehr-vah-SYOH

at what time?

à quelle heure?

ah kehl uhr?

(your) name

(votre) nom

(vohtr) noh

how many

combien

koh-BYA

for

pour

poor

this evening

ce soir

suh swahr

tomorrow evening

demain soir

duh-MA swahr

half past seven o'clock*

dix-neuf heures et demi

deez-nuhv uhr ay duh-MEE

eight o'clock

vingt heures

van tuhr

half past eight

vingt heures et demi

van tuhr ay duh-MEE

OK, agreed d'accord dah-KOHR

* Remember, France uses the 24 hour clock, so 7pm is 19:00.

Listen to a Sample Dialog

Here is a sample dialog. You are calling the "Restaurant le Jardin" to make a dinner reservation for two people the same evening at 8 pm.

Download MP3 soundtrack: fr_phoneres.mp3 (1.10mb)
Click on the link to play the sound file (it takes a few minutes to download). Right click to download the file to save on your computer.

Sample Dialog

You dial the number of the restaurant.

  • telephone: beep-beep...beep-beep...
  • restaurant (answering the phone): Restaurant le Jardin - bonjour.
  • you: Bonjour. Je voudrais faire une réservation pour ce soir.
  • restaurant: Oui, pour combien de personnes?
  • you: Pour deux personnes.
  • restaurant: Deux, à quelle heure?
  • you: À vingt heures.
  • restaurant: Votre nom?

You say your last name and, if you have learned enough of the alphabet, also spell it.

  • restaurant: D'accord.
  • you: Merci, au revoir.
  • restaurant: Au revoir.

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