A little translation help, please

We tried to reserve lunch at a restaurant for September 5, using their website contact form. Their response:

“Bonsoir à vous,
Désolée pour la réponse tardive mais nous étions pas présents, pris quelques jours de repos!
A vous lire.
Au plaisir de vous recevoir.”

I take “A vous lire” as “waiting to hear from you, the ball’s in your court, or try again later.” But that seems contrary to “Au plaisir de vous recevoir.”

I plan to wait a few days and try again, hoping their holidays will be over by then, but in the meantime, I might as well learn something from SF members whose French is better than mine. Does this read to you as though we have made the reservations or that we should try again? And how to interpret “A vous lire”?.

How long ago did you use the website contact
ie what was the delay in them replying… ???

Frankly, I’d give 'em a ring… and try my luck… you might just get the cleaning lady… but it’s worth having a go…

They say “we WERE not here” which indicates that they are now back.
And it sounds as if they are hoping you have not booked somewhere else in the meanwhile.
(Some people would book elsewhere if they need to finalise arrangements and do not hear back promptly.)
I think they are hoping you will get back to them to confirm that you still want to make the booking

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They’re looking forward to your visit

“A vous lire” implies that they are waiting for some kind of response from you, presumably to confirm that you still want the booking if it is available.

The follow-up phrase “Au plaisir de vous recevoir” indicates that they would be pleased to welcome you to their establishment if you do.

Yes, you sometimes you see this on publicity material. There is nothing definite about it, it simply means that they will be pleased to welcome you if you decide to go. If they had said Au plaisir de vous recevoir le 5 september it would have been different.

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Agree with Sandcastle. They were away, now back. Need you to confirm you still want booking + politesse.

“A vous lire” is a take on “au revoir” because they will read not see you. Au plaisir de vous recevoir doesn’t imply any time frame at all, it means we’re looking forward to getting a visit from you some time.

Thanks for your suggestions.

I got their email response just a few hours after I’d emailed, so no real delay.

I assume they aren’t back from vacation yet, because otherwise we’d have gotten the usual “C’est noté” in their email.

“A vous lire” is one of many colloquialisms that I haven’t mastered.

My guess is they’re still on holiday and trying to keep it light by avoiding any thought of going back to the grind. But their son goes back to school next week, so I’ll try emailing this coming Monday when they are usually open. Being open Mondays is one of their many charms.

Stella, even when we’re in France I’m not great on the phone in French. The worst for me is when no human answers and I have to cope with a quick-talking answering machine with no possibility of my asking it to slow down.


still worth a try… I know how you feel… it takes all my courage… be brave !!


DeepL translates ‘a vous lire’ as see you soon.
Followed by ‘Looking forward to seeing you soon’

DeepL, the best there is, imo.

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I agree DeepL is the best machine translator on the market at the moment, but I firmly believe that a good human translator is still better than the best machine translator.
A vous lire has no suggestion of seeing each other, it is about written communication.
Au plaisir de vous lire is what I used to write to work colleagues in other parts of France and French speaking colleagues overseas, that I was in regular email contact with, but there was no likelihood of us ever meeting. The meaning of the phrase was specifically ‘I look forward to hearing from you’ and not ‘I look forward to seeing you’.

‘Read you soon’ is what Deepl should be saying, because that is what it means, there’s a nuance there it hasn’t caught.


I’m not so sure, as they used the past not present tense (nous étions pas présents).

The suspense is almost too much to bear…
If you give the telephone number, I’ll ring 'em up… :+1: :wink:

Had DeepL translated it as ‘Read you soon’ I would have been most disappointed. Too literal for me.

I wouldn’t, because it doesn’t mean see you soon, it would be better translated as I look forward to hearing from you, even though that’s not quite it either - seeing a person is quite different and speaking with my translator’s hat on, I wouldn’t be happy with it.


That, to me, is one of the joys of learning a foreign language. A literal translation is easy, but skill is required to understand the nuances that exist behind the vocabulary and grammar.


If I were to write a letter to someone in English and then to write the same letter in French (it wouldn’t matter which came first) I’d be very interested to see if a translation would come up with the other version, if you see what I mean. I suppose possibly if it’s a dry as dust joke- and allusion-free letter about something eg technical.


I completely agree with you there, Brian! The more into French language and culture (particularly culture) I get, the more I become convinced that there is actually no such thing as a translation, only an approximation - very few words in either language mean exactly the same as their supposed translation. Thinking about it, as a Brit, I am very aware of the nuances of the English words and phrases used, depending on the context in which they are used, so obviously the same applies in French