Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Two-for-One French Meal Deals

Booking opened today for the 10th annual Tous au Restaurant promotion, in which restaurants across France offer special "buy one, get one free" multi-course menus at lunch or dinner or both. Tous au Restaurant runs Sept 30 to Oct 13 and roughly 1000 restaurants are signed up. What a great opportunity to sample restaurants you’ve been wanting to try...or to plan a foodie road trip...or to make like a big shot and treat your friends to a fancy meal! 

Launched in 2010 by superstar chef Alain Ducasse, it's meant to encourage people to eat out more often: in mom-and-pop bistros, in top Michelin-starred restaurants and everything in between. Last year roughly 250,000 people reserved tables in close to 1800 restaurants. Organizers say the two-week festival is designed not as a money-maker—many restaurants just break even--but to get people out and about, discovering new chefs, neighborhoods, cuisines and more. 

So what's the deal? Book online and order the special Tous au Restaurant menu and a second person at the table enjoys the same menu free. (Pas mal!, as the French would say, when something is very good indeed.) The restaurants choose what meals to offer, on which days and times. In some cases there's no choice; you eat what the chef is serving. In many cases however, you have multiple choices for each course. Restaurant ratings come from the French restaurant-booking site La Fourchette, the major sponsor. 

A small caveat: the Tous au Restaurant site just went live this morning (10 am France time) and isn't quite up to speed. For example, if you choose Provence or Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur from the drop down menu, you get just eight or nine restaurant choices. But if you choose one city--Marseille, for example--you see 28. Hopefully the kinks will be worked out soon so be sure to check back. Also, restaurants are still being added and will be, probably right up to Sept 30. That said, the most-popular places and times sell out quickly so book early and book often!

To get started, click here and click the red box Je Réserve. Start typing your city and choose the correct one from the drop down. (In Paris you can search by arrondisement or see a complete list.) Find the restaurant you want, review the special menu and then click "
Réserver avec cette offre." You'll be asked to pick your day, time and party size...and then be taken to another page to input your contact info and special requests. I assume they follow up with a confirmation email. The site is only in French but it's fairly easy to figure out; it also works pretty well if you have your web translator on although that leads to some cute names such as "The Plug of the Transplants" (Le Bouchon des Greffes in Nimes) and "Craftsman of the Marsh Truffle" (Artisan de la Truffe in the Marais neighborhood of Paris).

Reservations are online only. If you book and need to cancel, you can do that through the site as well. Cancellation policies vary but are clearly stated. Can't wait to hear where you ate and what you loved. Bon Appétit!

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