Tipping in France

Written by on February 19, 2013 in French Style

 Tipping in France

Tipping in France: One of the things that confuses visitors to France and causes consternation in the brasseries and restaurants of Paris is the question of tipping.

It’s not just restaurants where the question arises – taxis, hairdressers, hotels … in many countries tipping for almost all services is taken for granted but is it the same in France?

Do you tip in France or not?

In France the restaurant bill is all-inclusive – it is required by law to include a 15% service compris (service charge) on your bill. The charge is included in the price stated on the menu – it’s not an extra cost at the end of the meal.

So, technically you don’t have to tip but a small tip is always welcomed by staff. If you get a great service it’s always nice to show your appreciation directly to the person who delivered it.  Most restaurant managers and owners divide up the 15% and share out amongst all the waiters but that doesn’t always happen, some owners keep a bit (or a lot) for themselves, it’s not illegal for them to do that. Of course that’s not your problem – you’ve paid your service charge in the bill.

In Paris particularly where there are so many international visitors it has become commonplace to leave a tip after a meal or drink. It should never be expected, and there is absolutely no obligation but certainly leaving a few coins, often the change from a note for a “pourboire” (something to drink) is common.

Like anywhere, if you get a really good service, if a staff member is particularly helpful, patient or great then a tip shows that you really appreciated it and a couple of Euros will be very welcomed.  You can’t add it to the credit card – there is no line to do this, you’ll need to keep a bit of cash handy if you want to tip.

How much should I tip in restaurants in Paris?

There are no rules, as we’ve said, tipping is not obligatory but certainly in Paris it is far more common because of the amount of foreign visitors. In bars and brasseries leaving the change from a note when you have a drink or coffee is common up to a Euro or two.

When you go out to dinner – up to five Euros depending on how happy you are is normal.

A really special dinner, a really great service, a really smart restaurant – up to 10% tip is normal.

In a really swish restaurant where there is a coat service (or anywhere else there is a coat service – like the theatre) – 50 centimes to a Euro tip for the coat service is normal, unless there is a charge in which case, don’t worry about a tip.

Do I tip a taxi driver in Paris?

Most people do.  It’s not obligatory but 1-2 Euros for a normal, quick trip about town is fine; a bit more – 10% – if the driver has helped with your luggage, driven faster to get you to an appointment.

Hotels and Concierges – what do I tip?

Hotel porters the world over like to have a tip – a Euro for each bag is normal in France.

If you have a concierge who really makes an effort to help you then yes, a tip is acceptable and normal. Don’t tip for every phone call or arrangement though, at the end of your stay a tip of a Euro note is appreciated – denomination up to you as it depends on how much you’ve appreciated them.

I’ve heard you have to tip an usher at cinemas and theatres in France?

If you go to the theatre or a concert and you are shown to your seat it is pretty much mandatory to tip the usher at least a Euro or two – if you forget to give it – don’t be surprised if they ask you and don’t think it’s a scam, it is customary in France to tip your usher.

At big cinemas this doesn’t happen but in smaller, specialist or art-house type cinemas – again tipping your usher is a must.

Do I tip a hairdresser in France?

Giving a tip to the person who cuts your hair is normal – up to 10% is customary depending on how happy you are and how helpful they have been!

Read French Etiquette Tips for more advice on the French way of life

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