Do you tip in France? Last tipping in France Guide You’ll Need!

Do you tip in France? Last tipping in France Guide You’ll Need!

Tipping nuances vary from country to country, making it easy for tourists to commit a social faux pas. If you’re planning on travelling to France and wondering whether or not you should tip that taxi driver or the friendly French waiter – read on. I have all the tips you need to know about French tipping culture and etiquette in France for just about every situation.

Advice on Tipping in France

I’ve had many debates with friends here in France and conducted quite a bit of research about the “correct” amount to tip someone in France. I discovered that no one can really agree, not even the French. Every French person seems to have their own equation. Asking how much to tip in France is very subjective, almost like asking the best way to cook something or the best colour car to drive. 

There’s also a lot less tipping in France than in other countries like the United States and Canada, where tipping rules and amounts are ingrained in the culture. That’s because gratuities for Service workers in these places, especially in the US, such as taxi drivers, waiters and bartenders, make up a substantial chunk of those employees’ wages. Service workers in France don’t rely as much on tips because they are better compensated, to begin with.

For this exact reason, I encourage you to read my article about the French tipping culture in France and why even French people don’t seem to agree on the amounts you should be tipping in France. Once you understand tipping etiquette and tipping culture in France, it will become clearer why tipping in France guides tend to say different things.

**TIPPING IN FRANCE GUIDE: who and how much do you tip in France 

Service compris amount should be printed on bill in France

There are a few things you need to keep in mind about tipping in France.

  • French laws state that a service charge must be included in all prices and that tipping is not mandatory. As a result, a service charge called “service compris” is automatically added to the restaurant bill at restaurants, cafés and bars. (usually 15%).
  • The automatic service charge added to a restaurant bill IS NOT A TIP. It goes directly to the owner and allows employers to pay staff a liveable wage.
  • Although leaving a small tip for good service is not required, it’s greatly appreciated.
  • You won’t offend someone if you leave a tip and vice versa if you don’t leave a tip.
  • If you do decide to tip in France, the amount you leave is at your own discretion and goes directly to the person you give it to.
  • There are no hard and fast rules or standard percentages like there are in the U.S. and Canada.

The tipping amounts I list below are general guidelines or suggestions.

TIPPING WAIT STAFF AND FRENCH WAITERS IN FRANCE AT A RESTAURANT, CAFE OR BAR

Tipping in French restaurants

Restaurant Tipping in France

Tipping wait staff: Very few of my French friends leave tips for French waiters based on a percentage. It’s more of an intuitive thing, entirely at your own discretion based on the level of service you received.

  • For instance, when a waiter in a French restaurant drops the restaurant bill at your table, you can leave a 1 to 3 euro tip for a meal that costs between 13 to 25 euros whether or not you received great service.
  • If you want to use a percentage, leave about 5 %.
  • Leave 10 percent if you received great service.
  • Leave 15 percent to 20 percent tip if you received exceptional service and the French waiter blew you away.
  • In nicer restaurants, where someone has waited on you hand and foot, you might consider leaving 10 percent to 20 percent, but not if the service was terrible.
  • If you’re with a large group of people, a small tip of one euro from everyone in the group is an easy way to express gratitude for serving so many people.

i don't tip in France, the service is already included

It’s also not unusual for people to not leave a tip in France for various reasons.

  • Some people just don’t believe in tipping in France. 
  • Sometimes people don’t have cash on hand leave a tip. Tipping on a card is very awkward and usual and not usually done in France.
  • Sometimes cash-strapped students and adults who can’t afford to leave a tip won’t leave a tip, and no one bats an eye or comes chasing after them shaking their fists.

Restaurant Tipping in Paris

Because so many tourists leave tips in touristy Parisian restaurants and cafés, many French waiters have grown accustomed to bigger tips, especially if they learn that you’re American, who are considered some of the best tippers in Europe. But just because they expect one doesn’t mean you should.

My Parisian friend scolded me when I left a 10 euro tip for a 65 euro bill at a popular Paris restaurant. She grabbed the ten euros from the table, put five back in my purse and left 5 euros on the table for the server. 

Tipping at a Café

cafe des 2 moulins in the Montmartre district of Paris: where Amélie worked as a waitress

Most people agree that it’s a “keep the change” situation where you leave some of the small change you get back when paying with cash or round up to the nearest euro.

For example, if your coffee and croissant cost 2.50, you could leave 10 centimes (4%) or 20 centimes (8%).

If you’re feeling generous, you could even leave 50 centimes (20%).

Tipping at bars in France

James Bond Vesper martini made with Lillet

The service charge should be included on your bill if you’re sitting at a table but not standing at a bar ordering your drink.

Leaving some small change behind after paying in cash is a nice gesture to show appreciation. If it’s a larger bill, tip 5% to 10 %, based on the level of service you received.

Tipping at take-out or fast food type restaurants in France?

French tipping: it's ok to leave some change in the tip jar i France

In an inexpensive or casual restaurant where you order your meal and then take it to your seat or to go, the service charge is not included because you are not getting table-side service.

These more casual establishments often have tip jars where customers can leave some coins. If I have some coins in my pocket, I’ll usually drop in some change, but not always.

TIP PORTERS & OTHER HOTEL STAFF IN FRANCE

Tipping hotel staff such as housekeeping or the porter might be common in the U.S., but it isn’t always automatic in hotels in France. Still, it is always a nice gesture to give a few euros to hotel staff, especially if they’re accustomed to receiving tips from other tourists and if they went over and above the line of duty.

Tipping in France at hotels

Tipping Housekeeping

Housekeeping always gets the least amount of love and tips. Out of sight, out of mind.

If you do want to leave a gratuity for their hard work and effort, leaving a tip of 1 to 2 euros per day is a nice gesture, especially if you were a slob, left a huge mess. If you threw up all over the bathroom, you might want to leave a 20 euro bill for housekeeping with an apology letter.

Tipping Hotel Porter / Bellhop

A tip of 1 to 2 euros per bag is about the going rate. Or 2 euros minim for one bag and an extra euro for each additional bag. If you’re in a super deluxe hotel, maybe 2 to 3 for the first bag and an extra euro for each additional bag.

Tipping Hotel Concierge

If the hotel concierge was helpful during your stay or went out of their way and got you sold-out tickets or a reservation at a Michelin star restaurant that was fully booked, €5 or €10 is a nice way to express your thanks.

Tipping the Valet

A few euros to the valet to run and fetch your car would be a nice gesture of appreciation, especially if the valet went above and beyond the call of duty. For instance, if the valet ran to get your car, fetched your luggage, loaded it in the boot of your vehicle and turned on the AC or heat for you, giving 5 or 10 euros is a generous tip.

Tipping Room service

Tipping for room service is a little like tipping a delivery person or a restaurant waiter. You can give one or two euros minimum or a percentage for larger bills of 5 to 10 percent.

TIPPING DELIVERY PEOPLE

Tipping Delivery People In France

Tipping Food delivery services.

With pizza delivery and food delivery services like Uber eats, you can tell them to keep the change or give them a euro or two, especially if your place is difficult to access.

Many food delivery apps like Uber eats in France have the option for customers to leave a tip from within the app.

Keep in mind that many food delivery people in France who work for Uber Eats are independent workers and get paid per delivery, which may or may not be a liveable wage. They are picking up your food, carrying it on their backs and delivering it to your front door. A tip of 10% to 20% is well worth the convenience for this underappreciated job.

Tipping Furniture delivery

Giving the delivery person a few euros for delivering furniture is a nice way to show appreciation. If they killed themselves and sweat blood and tears to carry your new refrigerator or couch up two flights of stairs on their back, you may want to leave a bigger tip: 5, 10, or 20 euros is a generous tip.

TIPPING BEAUTY AND PERSONAL CARE

French Tipping in France: for health, beauty: manicure

Tipping the Hairdresser or Barber

Depending on the price of your haircut and the level of service, you can leave a tip of 1 to 5 euros. Your tip will go directly to the person who cut your hair, or it might get shared with other staff.

Tipping the Esthetician

3 to 5 euros is a generous tip, or you can leave a 15% tip.

OTHER TIPPING SITUATIONS

Tipping ushers in France

Tipping the Washroom attendants

Some restrooms in France have washroom attendants. If you see a tip jar, leaving some change or a euro is not uncommon. Especially if the bathroom was clean, fully stocked with paper towels, and the bathroom attendant was helpful.

Tipping the cloakroom attendant

At concerts, nightclubs, and theatres, where you can leave your coat and bag for free in some sort of cloakroom, it’s customary to tip the cloakroom attendant around one euro. If you had to pay for the cloakroom, the tendency is not to leave a tip.

Tipping Ushers

Less than a decade ago, it was customary to give ushers tips because it was well known that they survived solely on tips. However, more and more ushers now have salaries; usually, minimum wage and the custom of tipping ushers is slowly disappearing.

If ushers are paid solely on tips, you should see a sign saying so. In either case, salaried or not, Michelle, who works as an usher at Théâtre de la Michodière (a private theatre) says, a tip of 50 cents is too small of a tip. One euro is good, but several euros is better. Not having change is no excuse because ushers can give you some. Her words not mine.

Be careful; only tip ushers in a private theatre. Giving tips at a public theatre is not permitted in France.

Tipping at the train station or airport

I don’t know a single French person who does this, but some guides say that you should tip anyone in a train station or airport who helps you with your bags. Giving €1 to €2 per bag should be sufficient if you decide to leave a tip.

Tipping Taxi drivers

Whether it’s a taxi driver, uber driver or limo driver, no one can ever decide how much to give drivers in France.

Here are a couple of scenarios.

  • You can leave 1 to 5 euros, depending on the length of your ride.
  • You can also round up to the nearest euro or tell the driver to keep the change.
  • If the driver performed a miracle or went above and beyond: helped you with your bags, opened your door, had water waiting for you in the car, or did something out of the ordinary like got you to the airport in record time, then you may want to give a little bit more based on a percentage of around 5% to 15%.

Tipping Tour Guides 

Tipping tour guides is not automatic for most people, especially in France, but if you feel like your tour guide did an exceptional job, or the tour was long and thorough in a good way, you could always leave a few euros or 10% of the total price of the tour.

WHERE NOT TO TIP

When You Get Bad Service!

In some cultures, when you receive bad service, you leave a smaller tip or leave a coin. “Yeah, that’ll show you to give me bad service.”

In France, If you leave a smaller tip of 1 Euro instead of 15%, no one would even blink. The server might even be pleased.

So if you happen to receive bad or rude service, don’t tip, don’t leave even one centime. 

DO NOT TIP Health Professionals

You do not leave a tip for people in the health industry. This includes dentists, acupuncturists, sports therapy or physical therapy.

DO NOT TIP if you see “Pourboire Interdit.”

In the rare case you see a sign that says “Pourboir Interdit,” it means that tipping is not permitted.

Tips are also prohibited in public theatres such as municipal theatres, national stages, and cultural centers, which are subsidized.

TIP WITH CASH IF YOU CAN: NOT CREDIT CARD

French tipping guide: It's better to pay your tip in cash

In the U.S. and Canada, it’s easy to tip with a credit card. There is even a space for you to write in the amount, which can be added at any time. In France, you can’t do this.

Once your server swipes your card, you can’t ask them to add in a tip after the fact. They have to first cancel the transaction, then you have to tell them how much to add manually, and they have to re-swipe your card with the tip added to the total.

For this reason, it’s better to have a few euros cash on you at all times so that you can leave a tip. Another t thing to keep in mind is servers don’t get the tips right away. It may take several weeks for the owner to disperse the tips to the servers. It all depends on the establishment.

A quick recap about tipping in France

  • You don’t have to tip in France. No one will bat an eye or spit in your food the next time they see you.
  • Although not expected or required, it’s still customary to leave a small gratuity to show your appreciation if you receive good service, great service and exceptional service to show you appreciated a job well done.
  • How much you leave is up to you, but you don’t have to feel guilty for not leaving a 20% tip.
  • Don’t forget; a service fee is automatically added to all bills at restaurants, cafés and bars (usually 15%). This is not a tip; it’s a service charge.
  • And last but not least, servers in France do not live off tips because they make a liveable wage. But the minimum wage is not a fortune, so tips are always appreciated.

If you’re interested in food and dining, check out my article on 77 French Aperitifs: An A To Z List & Guide To Pre-dinner Alcohol Drinks in France.

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