As I mentioned yesterday, making hotel reservations in Paris can be particularly challenging and patience comes in handy.
We’ve decided to stay near the Eiffel Tower in the 7th, and I’ve seen several reasonably priced hotels listed in Rick Steves’ book on France. One is quaint, close to Rue Cler and the price is reasonable – in fact for Paris it’s great. They don’t use a booking service like Booking.com (which I used for several hotels) so I sent them an email requesting availability. After a day or so and plenty of leeway for the difference in time, I sent it again, and then again and again. Six days – no answer.
By now I was determined. I was not going to give up! I had heard booking French hotels could be difficult, especially if you don’t speak French. Was arrogance at play here? I decided two could play this game. I copied my email into Google Translate and immediately had it printed out in French. I had no idea if it was good French, bad French or even if it said what I hoped it would say since I don’t speak a word of French. But now I had something in French , so I pasted it back into the email and hit send. Two very short hours later I received a reply. Back to Google Translate to find out what they said. And so it went for 4-5 emails as I reserved a room, and worked out details. I sent one last email requesting a final written confirmation, to which I received this reply, “ Madame, Your reservations is now confirmed. And by the way, you speak very good French.” The reply was in English.
I almost wrote back and said, “ Thank you for the compliment. However, Google Translator speaks very good French.”
I did further reading on the hotel and found terrible reviews on Trip Advisor that I had missed. Several people mentioned arrogant, rude staff, reservations confirmed and later denied upon arrival and luggage moved from the room to the hall when they decided your stay was finished and someone else needed the room – and paid a higher price. While one or two negative comments don’t bother me these left me feeling uneasy. I didn’t want to arrive in Paris at night, with no room, traveling with a 16 year old who is already a bit leery about not being able to speak the language.
I ended up canceling the reservation and reserving another room, well, actually several rooms, but I finally found a hotel with excellent reviews, Hotel Relais Bosquet, and staff who have been gracious in their correspondence in English. It is located a block off of Rue Cler and looks, small, charming and right where we want to be.
When in Paris I plan on making an attempt to speak French. I have a phrase book and iTranslate. My French may be barely passable, but I’m willing to give it a try.