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.
tipping in France and French tipping etiquette
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
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 f
rom 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?
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.
- Some people don’t believe
tippingis 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.
TIPPING GUIDE: who and how much do you tip 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 IN RESTAURANTS, CAFES AND BARS
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.
- 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:
Tipping at a Café terrace
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?
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?
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.
TIPPING: PORTERS & OTHER HOTEL STAFF IN FRANCE
Do you tip hotel housekeeping?
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
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
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
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?
Tipping room service in France is a little like
TIPPING DELIVERY PEOPLE IN FRANCE
Do you tip in France for Food delivery services?
With pizza delivery and food delivery services like
Many food delivery apps like
Tipping Furniture delivery workers
If the furniture delivery person sweats blood and tears carrying your new
TIPPING BEAUTY AND PERSONAL CARE
Tipping the Hairdresser or Barber
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.
TIPPING IN FRANCE SITUATIONS
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
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
When it comes to
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 in France
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!
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
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.
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
- 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.
- Although not expected or required, you can leave a small gratuity to show appreciation for good, great, or exceptional service.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.