A guide to tipping in France: It’s not as much as you think!

Tipping French waiter in France
Tipping French waiter in France

If you’re wondering whether or not you should tip that French taxi driver or the super-friendly French waiter, read on. After reading this guide, you may want to read about Why French tipping culture is so confusing and arbitrary.

Facts about tipping in France and French tipping etiquette

French restaurant bill with the Service compris amount circled: French tipping

Do you tip in France?

Yes, you can tip in France, but you don’t have to. More on this in just a moment.

Is it rude to tip in France?

No, you won’t offend anyone if you leave a tip in France.

How much do you tip in France?

In certain situations, it’s customary to tip service workers when you receive good or exceptional service, especially at restaurants in big cities, but less so in small towns or in the countryside.

A good tip in France is between 2% to 10% of the total bill, with the average being around 5%, NOT 15% to 20%.

This simple concept confused me because it’s not a black-and-white answer, and that’s because tipping is very nuanced in France and many European countries.

Think of tipping in France as an unexpected, kind gesture rather than an obligation to supplement traditionally underpaid service workers. Almost like a gift. If you don’t get a gift from your friends, no big deal but if you do, it’s a nice gesture.

Why are tips in France so much lower than in other countries?

If you’re wondering why tips are so much lower than what you may be accustomed to, it’s because French service industry workers are paid a living wage. A liveable wage in France is minimum wage and above.

As of 2022, the minimum wage in France for a 35-hour work week is 1645.48 euros/month (1 302.64 euros net).

Minimum wage in France is called SMIC which is an accronym for Salaire Minimum Interprofessionnel de Croissance (guaranteed minimum growth wage).

This is in stark contrast to service industry workers in other countries, such as the United States, where workers rely on tips because they earn below minimum wage, i.e. a liveable wage.

For example, in some U.S. states, waiters and waitresses can earn a salary as low as $2.13 per hour. Without tips, they couldn’t survive.

Still, the minimum wage is never a huge sum of money if you consider the cost of living, so tips are very much appreciated, especially if you’re raising a family.

Why some French people don’t tip in France?

Man showing his empty wallet in a restaurant

As the old saying goes, different strokes for different folks. Some French people don’t tip. I neither condone nor condemn this practice. I’m just stating a fact.

The reasons why someone might not leave a tip in France are wide and varied, but here are some possible scenarios.

screenshot of answer to question Do you tip in France: French person responded "i don't tip in France, the service is already included"
  • Some people don’t believe tipping is necessary if a 15% service charge (service compris) is added to the bill. (This service charge is actually not a tip. It goes directly to the owner, who uses it to partly pay a liveable wage to all employees.
  • Credit card machines in France are not built to add tips automatically. So if someone has no cash in their pocket, they won’t leave a tip.
  • Sometimes people are cash-strapped or cheap.
  • Young people often forget to leave tips.
  • If you receive bad service, the belief is you should never leave a tip in France. Not even a one-centime.

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

A plate of money next to a fork and knife: tipping in France

Now that you’re familiar with the basics of tipping etiquette in France, here are some suggested tipping amounts for different situations. Keep in mind, unlike in North America; there are no hard and fast rules about how much to tip. It’s more of a personal discretion. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

*These are just suggested amounts

For more information on France’s tipping etiquette and culture, please read part one of this series, France’s tipping etiquette, which explains why tipping is more subjective and arbitrary in France than in other countries.

TIPPING IN RESTAURANTS, CAFES AND BARS

front of le Procope brasserie café restaurant paris: Don't forget to tip in France!: France tipping rules for restaurants:

Tipping in a restaurant

In North America, when the waiter drops the restaurant bill at your table, most people will automatically calculate the tip based on a percentage, usually 15 to 20 percent.

Tipping in France is more nuanced or intuitive.

For example, if our bill at a French restaurant is around 13 to 25 euros, it’s pretty normal to leave a one-euro or two-euro coin. There’s no hassling with percentages.

If you’re dead set on leaving a tip in French restaurants based on a percentage, you can do that too.

  •  2% to 5 % for good service.
  • 10 % for great service.
  • 15 % to 20 % in nicer restaurants where someone has given you exceptional service but not if the service was terrible.
  • If you’re with a large group, a small tip of one euro from everyone in the group is an easy way to express gratitude for serving so many people.

Tipping in Paris restaurants:

seafood platter au pied de cochon brasserie paris: Higher end restaurant usually mean you leave a bigger tip in France.

Tipping in Paris is just like tipping anywhere else in France. However, Paris is a big city, and tipping occurs more often in bigger cities. Also, because so many tourists, especially Americans, leave big 20% tips in touristy restaurants (especially in touristy Parisian restaurants and cafés), some French waiters have grown accustomed to bigger tips from tourists.

But just because someone expects a big tip 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.

She said it was too much for average service bordering on bad, and by giving servers, such a big tip sets a bad precedence for locals.

You might be interested in reading: Cafe vs Bistro vs Brasserie: What’s the Difference? A guide to dining in France

Tipping at a Café terrace

cafe des 2 moulins in the Montmartre district of Paris: where Amélie worked as a waitress: Don't forget to leave a small tip.

Sitting on a terrace to enjoy an aperitif or a café is part of the French way of life.

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%).

You might be interested in reading: How to order rare, medium rare & well-done steak in French!

Do you tip bartenders in France?

James Bond Vesper martini made with Lillet

The service charge should be included on your bar 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 your bill is larger, leave a tip of 5% to 10 %, based on the level of service you experienced.

You might be interested in reading: 27 After Dinner Drinks The French Love To Drink (Digestifs / Digestives)

Do you tip in France for take-out or fast food type restaurants?

French tip jar that says Merci

In a casual restaurant where you order your meal and take it to your seat or to go, the service charge is not included in the price 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.

HOTEL TIPPING: PORTERS & OTHER HOTEL STAFF IN FRANCE

French hotel sign: Don't forget to tip the 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 tip 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.

Do you tip hotel housekeeping?

housekeeping woman making the bed in a hotel: Don't forget to tip them in France

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

If you 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 or left a huge mess. If you threw up all over the bathroom, you might want to leave a 20 euro tip for housekeeping with an apology letter.

Did you know it’s better to tip housekeeping daily rather than at the end of your stay so that the person who actually cleans your room will get the tip. If you tip at the end of your stay, the last person who cleaned your room will get the entire tip.

Tipping Hotel Porter / Bellhop

France tipping: hotel porter / bellhop standing next to his cart

A tip of 1 to 2 euros per bag is about the going rate. Or 2 euros minimum 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 or suitcase.

It’s also nice to leave a tip to the hotel staff when you store your luggage at a hotel before you check-in or after you check-in.

Tipping The Hotel Concierge

French tipping: hotel concierge answering phone calls with bell sitting on counter

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

France tipping: Hand of French valet holding keys out in front of a car

Tipping 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 A.C. or heat for you, giving 5 or 10 euros is a generous tip.

Do you tip in France for room service?

Room service delivery food to a guest in his hotel room: don't forget to tip in France

Tipping room service in France is a little like tipping a delivery person or a restaurant waiter. You can give one or two euros or if you feel more comfortable using percentages, leave 5 to 10 percent. Or you can leave nothing.

TIPPING DELIVERY PEOPLE IN FRANCE

French pizza delivery guy on a yellow scooter wearing a helmet with French flag colours

Do you tip in France for 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 tip of one or two euros, especially if your place is difficult to access.

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

Tipping Furniture delivery workers

Woman watching two furniture delivery men put her couch on the floor

If the furniture delivery person sweats blood and tears carrying your new refrigerator or couch up two flights of narrow stairs on their back, you may want to leave a generous tip: 5, 10, or 20 euros, depending on the difficulty of the job.

TIPPING BEAUTY AND PERSONAL CARE

Woman getting her nails done at a salon in France

Tipping the Hairdresser or Barber

women getting her hair cut by hairdresser

At a hair salon or barber, it’s customary to leave a small tip.

Depending on your haircut’s price and service level, 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 masseuse or esthetician

A tip of 15% to 20% at a health spa or esthetician is considered very generous.

Some businesses have a small envelope for you to leave a tip where you can write the name of the person who helped you.

OTHER TIPPING SITUATIONS

French opera house

Tipping the Washroom attendants

If you see a tip jar, leaving some change is common practice. 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, 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 an Usher

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 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 change—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 Taxis and other drivers

taxi sign on top of tax

When it comes to tipping taxi drivers, uber drivers and limo drivers, no one can ever decide how much to tip 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

Woman guiding a group of people while holding a map

Tipping tour guides is not automatic for most people, especially in France. However, 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.

You might be interested in reading: Pocket dictionary: 200+ types of French shop names, businesses, services and places in France.

When you see a tip jar

Sometimes you may see a tip jar in unexpected places.

For instance, in some small French shops, such as bakeries and butchers, the workers will put out a small tip jar.

It’s ok to leave a few coins or whatever you have in your coin purse.

you might be interested in reading: Pocket dictionary: 200+ types of French shop names, businesses, and services in France

WHERE, WHEN AND WHO NOT TO TIP IN FRANCE!

French Woman wearing a Tshirt that says Tip and holding two French signs in each hand that say OUI and NON

Don’t tip when you receive bad service!

In some cultures, when you experience bad service, you leave a smaller tip or leave a coin. “Yeah, that’ll teach them a lesson for giving me bad service.”

Not so in France. No one will even blink if you leave a tip of 1 Euro instead of 15%. The server might even be pleased.

So don’t leave a tip if you received terrible or rude service. Just be careful; what you may consider lousy service may be considered good service in France, so learn the customs.

Don’t tip health professionals.

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

Don’t tip if you see a sign that says “Pourboire Interdit.”

In the rare case, you see a sign that says “Pourboir Interdit,” which means “tipping is not permitted.” So don’t do it.

Don’t tip in public theatres.

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

TIP WITH CASH, NOT A CREDIT CARD 

woman handing credit card to pay for a restaurant bill in France

In North America, it’s easy to tip with a credit card. There is even a space for you to write in the tip 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 a tip. They have to first cancel the transaction. Then you have to tell them how much you want to tip so they can key it in manually, and they have to re-swipe your card with the tip added to the total.

That’s why it’s better to have a few coins or cash on you at all times so that you can leave a tip. Another thing to keep in mind is it may take several weeks for the owner to disperse the credit card tips to the servers.

Final thought

Tipping at restaurants and for different services in France doesn’t have to be complicated.

Here is a summary of the important cultural nuances of French tipping practices in France

SUMMARY:

  1. If you don’t leave a tip in France, no one will bat an eye or spit in your food the next time they see you.
  2. Although not expected or required, you can leave a small gratuity to show appreciation for good, great, or exceptional service.
  3. A service charge called “service compris” is automatically added to all bills at restaurants, cafés and bars (usually 15%). This service charge IS NOT A TIP. It goes directly to the owner and allows employers to pay staff a liveable wage.
  4. Because servers receive a liveable wage, there’s a lot less tipping in France. People who tip tend to leave smaller tips compared to their North American counterparts.
  5. The amount you give as a tip is at your own discretion. Everyone seems to have their own equation about who and how much to tip in France.
  6. You don’t have to feel guilty if you don’t leave a 20% tip.

You might be interested in reading:

77 French Aperitifs: An A To Z List & Guide To Pre-dinner Alcohol Drinks in France.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

 

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