Home to some of the world’s most delicious wine, haute-cuisine and boutique hotels, France is a country that is full of luxury. Service in France is usually also extremely good, as great dining is a priority for French people and tourists alike.
While tipping in France may not be obligatory, there is still a tipping etiquette in France that should be followed. Before you leave for your French adventure it’s best to know and understand the common tipping practices in France. Read below for instances when you might need to tip, how much you should leave, and why…
Important Facts about Tipping in France
In 2008, the French Government put in place a law that requires most restaurants and cafes to add a service charge to the bill, this allows them to tax tips. Known in French as Service compris, the restaurant will usually add around 15% to the bill, and while it most often applies to restaurants, it can also be added in other instances. This extra charge usually covers health benefits, vacations and any retirement benefits for its workers. What’s more, Waiters and waitresses in France are usually paid a fixed income, unlike servers in the US, and do not necessarily rely on tips to make up their income. If you are paying service compris, this will appear clearly on your bill.
Because of this law extra tipping is generally not required. However, if you do receive good service it is nice to leave a couple of extra Euros for your waiter/waitress as a thank you, particularly in tourist areas or in high-end establishments. If you receive bad service, then an extra tip is at your own discretion and it won’t be considered rude if you don’t leave one.
What’s great about the French system is that the service charge is already factored into the menu, and so you usually won’t get a surprise amount added when you receive your bill. Be aware, however, that despite the law in 2008 stating that all servers must receive this percentage, not all service charges are distributed among waiters/waitresses, so if you want to ensure that your server receives a tip you will have to give them the extra with the bill.
Tipping in France Restaurants and Cafes
If you are having a small lunch in a cafe or restaurant it is normal to leave a small amount of change for the server, around 50 cents is plenty. If you are having dinner and you receive good service then it is nice to leave a few Euros for your server; around one to two is usually enough. You can leave around 5-10 percent if you are very happy with your meal. This will be more than appreciated. Essentially tipping in France is more of a gesture, and less of an obligation. So, if you receive exemplary service then it is nice to leave a larger tip to demonstrate your appreciation.
Tipping in France Hotels
As in the rest of Europe it is not customary nor necessary to tip your porter or maid, but in both cases it’s a nice gesture to give them a tip for their time. Most of these workers do not earn much money in their fields and if you feel they have done a good job or have been polite and kind, then it is nice to tip them. A Euro for the porter is usually enough, and a little more for the maid depending on how long you have stayed in the room, a Euro per night is usually sufficient.
Tipping in French Bars and Clubs
The general rule is that no tipping is required if you are sat at the bar and ordering drinks. Usually bars and clubs will be busy and bar staff will be preoccupied with serving so they won’t be able to accept and probably won’t understand your gesture of a tip – although if you want to tip your server we are sure they would be much obliged.
Tipping in France Taxis and Drivers
Taxi drivers that work for cab companies earn around $2,500 a month, and work long hours. Tipping them some change, to round up the cab fare, or around 5-10 percent of the fare is kind and generous, and will make their day. If you have a personal driver it is polite to tip them, especially if he/she has gone out of their way to ensure your stay is the best it can be, again around 5-10 percent is normal.
Tipping Etiquette in France: Ushers
If you visit the Opera House or another established entertainment venue, then it is customary to tip the usher or usherette around 50 cents for showing you to your seat. While these workers do receive a full salary now in France, it is still very minimal and tips are much appreciated in this line of work.
Tipping Cloakroom Staff in France
In France you may be attending a classical concert or show, or a music hall or disco. In some of these places there will be a cloakroom where you can leave your coat and bag; in this scenario it is usual to tip the staff at the cloakroom around one Euro for a large item.
Tipping Tour Guides in France
A good independent guided tour should be rewarded with a tip as a gesture for the inside knowledge you have received, especially if you have taken part in a free tour of the city. It is also normal for visitors to tip salaried guides in museums and galleries if you felt they were knowledgeable and helpful.
Explore the Cultural Intricacies of France with Auto Europe
Now that you understand the tipping etiquette in France, you can hit the road with this knowledge in hand, and start exploring today! Auto Europe strives to provide our clients with the most detailed travel tips for Europe, so you can enjoy your next vacation to the fullest, with no hiccups. As a travel industry leader for over 60 years, Auto Europe’s unique supplier relationships allow us to offer all of our customers the best rates on car rentals in France, hotels, international airfare, and more! Give us a call today, toll-free at 1-888-223-5555, and get your vacation started!