Tipping in France: A Comprehensive Guide

October 23, 2020

by Rina Bernardo

Man holding Euro bills

Tipping, or giving gratuities, is something most tourists should should take note of when visiting a country. Like basic phrases and certain table manners, it’s important that one would take the time to get to know the country’s tipping culture. Since the tipping policy varies per country, you wouldn’t want to get off on the wrong foot and unintentionally offend a waiter by giving a tip, or none at all. For example, tipping in France isn’t required nor expected. But in Mexico, there may be places where gratuities are expected.


If your next destination is the romantic city of Paris or Cannes, here’s everything you need to know about tipping in France, who to tip as well as how much you should give.


 


Is Tipping Expected in France?


 


Tip jar at a restaurant
Photo by Sam Dan Truong on Unsplash


As in most countries, tipping in France is uncommon, and there are certain places and times where it’s alright to tip. They are also considered as a gesture instead of an obligation. Additionally, waiters are paid a living wage so they don’t depend on additional gratuities. Like the tipping culture in Mexico, giving someone a tip is a form of appreciation of good service. As a general rule, if the service is unsatisfactory or subpar, tip less, or none at all. 


Take note that if you will be tipping in France, it is better to tip in Euros than in other currencies like dollars or pounds. However, if you’re out of Euros and dollars are your last option, do give bills instead of coins since most money changers don’t accept coins.


Service Compris


Sometime in 2008, the French government signed a law that will require most restaurants, cafes, and establishments to add a 15% service charge to the bill. This is locally known as the service compris. The service compris also covers miscellaneous benefits like vacation, retirement, and health benefits of the restaurant staff. Since most restaurants include the service compris in the bill, tipping is not mandatory. 


If the service charge is included, you can see the words “service compris” in the bill or on the menu. Other indicators may include taxes et services compris (STC) or prix nets/toutes taxes comprises (TTC), meaning that prices include the service charge. On the other hand, if the service charge isn’t included, you can find the words service non compris (SNC).


However, take note that not all service charges are distributed among waitstaff despite the new law. In other words, to make sure that your server receives a tip, you may have to shell out extra cash.


 


Guide to Tipping in France


 


Tipping in Restaurants and Cafes 


 


People in an alleyway in Nice, France
Photo by Paul Rysz on Unsplash


Generally speaking, restaurants, cafes, and bars in France have a 15% service charge added, so tipping may not be necessary. When paying, make sure to look for the “service compris” on your bill or on the menu/price list. The service compris also includes various benefits for its workers, and on top of that, servers and waiters are paid a fixed amount so they don’t rely heavily on tips for additional sources of income.


Restaurants


Unlike in most American restaurants, restaurants in France include a service charge in the bill. However, if you’d like to tip on top of the given service charge, a small amount goes a long way. 


There are no strict rules when tipping in restaurants in France, although it is nice to leave at least a few Euros for your waiter or server. Any gratuity between 5% and 10% of the total bill is generous enough. For fine dining restaurants, you can leave 1 or 2 EUR for every 20 EUR spent. So if your bill is around 60 EUR, you can give a 3 or 6 EUR as a tip. On the other hand, for simple eateries, you can leave 1 or 5 EUR for your waiter.


Cafes


Grabbing a cup of café au lait and a couple of pastries is part of the everyday scene in France. If you’re heading to a cafe for a morning or afternoon coffee, remember that you’re not obliged to tip. However, if you received good service, it won’t hurt to leave a tip as a small token of appreciation.


If you’re paying in cash, you leave a few coins as a tip or round up the total bill. You can also leave 1 or 2 EUR as a gratuity. Take note that if you received bad or subpar service, you don’t have to leave a tip.


Bars and Clubs


Like the tipping policy in cafes and restaurants, it’s not mandatory to leave tips at bars and clubs since the bill includes in the service charge. Most bars and clubs are full and the bar staff are busy, so they might not be able to accept your tip. In some cases, they might misunderstand your intention and think that you’re buying another drink.


However, if you feel generous and would like to tip, you may round up the bill. For example, if your total bill amounts to 6.50 EUR, you can leave 7 EUR. Others also prefer giving a 1 EUR tip for every round of drinks as long as the service is commendable.


Fast food Joints


Like in Mexico and most areas in the world, tipping in France’s fast food joints isn’t necessary. In some cases, they may be even hesitant or refuse to receive a tip.


 


Tipping in Hotels and Resorts


 


Front view of the InterContinental Bordeaux Hotel
Photo by Clovis WOOD on Unsplash


Tipping in resorts and hotels like the Marriott Champs Elysees Hotel isn’t mandatory, but you can do so as a form of appreciation and gratitude. Unlike servers or waiters, most hotel workers don’t earn much, so they rely on tips for additional income. It wouldn’t hurt to tip the staff for keeping your room spotless or the concierge for helping you book tickets.


Housekeeping


While tipping the housekeeping staff isn’t required, it’s a nice gesture to give a tip for their hard work and effort. If you think they did an exceptional job and if they managed to tidy up what was once a messy room, you can leave 1 to 2 EUR per day. Take note that it’s best to leave a tip daily instead of giving it on the last night of your stay since most staff work on rotation.


Doorman


If the doorman helped hail a cab, feel free to give 1 EUR. Additionally, if they went out of their way to assist you or help you bring in your luggage, you can give 1 to 2 EUR as a form of gratuity.


Bellhop


You can also give a 1 or 2 EUR tip to the bellhop for each bag he brings to your room. If the bag is heavy or bulky, or if he has to climb several floors, it’s customary to tip more.


Concierge


If the concierge or desk staff goes the extra mile and provides cafe or restaurant recommendations, directions, or helps you book reservations, you can leave a tip. A 5 to 20 EUR tip is generous enough depending on the type of hotel you’re staying in.


 


Tipping Taxi Drivers in France


 


Vintage taxi parked on a street
Photo by MichaelGaida on Pixabay


Tipping the taxi drivers in France taxis isn’t expected, but you can give one since most cab drivers don’t make a lot of money. You can book a taxi through the hotel concierge, apps like Uber, or by calling the taxi company directly. If your driver helped you load your luggage, or was kind enough to wait while you buy something, you can give a 1 to 3 EUR tip. Similar to the tipping culture in London, you can round up your fare and let the driver keep the change as a tip. Additionally, you can also tip 5% to 10% of the fare.


 


Tipping Tour Guides in France


 


Aerial view of Paris
Photo by Alexander Kagan on Unsplash


If you had the best Seine River cruise or you learned more about the history of Paris on a sightseeing tour through your tour guide, it’s best to reward him or her with a tip. This isn’t mandatory, but your guide will appreciate this after a long day out despite the kind of tour you joined. If your tour also includes a driver, don’t forget to tip them as well. When joining group tours, expect that one of the members may ask around for collective gratuities.


For a day tour, you can give a tip of 2 to 5 EUR to your guide when the tour ends. Some tourists also prefer giving 10% of the tour price as a tip. If your museum visit includes a guide, give 1 or 2 EUR especially if you learned a lot from them. Meanwhile, if your day tour includes a driver, tip him 1 or 2 EUR as well. 


 


Tipping for Other Services


 


Female singer playing the guitar on a street
Photo by Maaria Lohiya on Unsplash


Spa


Tipping in spas depends on the place you visit, so make sure to check with the reception staff the appropriate amount to tip. Most spas also have the service charge included in the bill. But if you think your therapist deserves extra credit, you’re free to leave an extra tip. Normally, people tip around 10% to 20% of the total bill. As far as tipping in France goes, it’s better to leave the gratuity at the reception instead of giving it to the therapist or esthetician directly.


Salon


If you’re pleased with your new haircut, you can leave a tip at the end of your session. For a simple haircut, your stylist will appreciate a 5% to 10% or a 2 to 3 EUR tip. However, if you go to a more upscale salon, you may want to shell out more since you’ll get a more high-quality level of service.


Delivery Riders


It’s not necessary to tip takeaway or delivery riders. However, if it’s raining outside or you have a complicated address or order, you can leave a couple of Euros. While most delivery apps include the delivery charge, some people go the extra mile and give an extra tip to the delivery riders.


Street Performers


Street performers like singers and pantomimers are not paid by the local government, so they also rely on daily gratuities. If you happen to stop by and watch them perform, you can tip a Euro or two. As a general rule of thumb, the longer you stay to watch a performance, the more you tip. 


Ushers and Cloakroom Staff


If you are going to visit the Palais Garnier or any other concert and entertainment venue, it is customary to tip the usher or usherette. You can simply give 50 cents to 1 EUR for guiding you to your seat. Back then, ushers and usherettes weren’t paid by theater operators so they relied heavily on tips. Although this isn’t the case today, small gratuities given to them are highly appreciated. 


Additionally, most of these concert halls have a cloakroom where you can leave your bag, coat, and other items. For cloakroom staff, you can give a 1 EUR tip for every large item. Additionally, it is customary to tip 1 EUR for every large item at cloakrooms in fine dining restaurants.


To Wrap Things Up…


Unlike the tipping culture in America, tipping in France is not required. It is more of a gesture to reward someone’s work and service.Other than the fact that the French government has put into law that a 15% service charge should be included in restaurants and cafes, most waitstaff is paid a living wage. 


When tipping in France, always remember that the amount given entirely depends on how someone served you. Likewise, it’s not something given just because. Large tips, despite how sincere your thought may be, can be considered ostentatious and may cause misunderstandings between you and the server. If you’re not sure how much to tip, you can always ask around for the appropriate amount. 


Lastly, take note that giving gratuities in France isn’t mandatory and is a form of gratitude. You don’t really have to stress yourself over giving someone a tip and you just have to go with your gut feeling. Consequently, if the service given to you is unsatisfactory or subpar, you’re free to tip less or not at all.