Tipping In France: How Much, And Where To Do It
Tipping In France: How Much, And Where To Do It
When traveling abroad, we hope and expect to receive good service in the establishments that we visit – and when we’re happy with service, it is customary to tip. However, the expectations on tipping vary from country to country, and France has its own set of unwritten rules to follow.
First off, tipping etiquette in France differs to that of North America, in the sense that tips aren’t always expected, and the wages of staff or servers aren’t usually so dependent on tips from patrons. Think of tipping more as a goodwill gesture – it is a way to show your gratitude to the people helping and serving you, that goes a little beyond just saying ‘thank you’.
There are many instances where tipping is an appropriate way to show your appreciation for the service that you have received. However, the expectations surrounding the appropriate tip amount do still differ based on which service is being delivered. To help you navigate this cultural difference, here is a guide to which services are generally tipped in France, and how much of a tip you are quietly expected to leave.
Food and Drink Establishments
The expectations on tipping vary depending on which type of food or drink establishment you are visiting, how good the service is, and even how upmarket the establishment is overall.
In most restaurants, there is a service charge included in the bill. By law, the service charge must be distributed among the staff and be added to their salaries overall, though some restaurant owners may attempt to get around this, and keep the totality or part of the service charge for profit.
It is still customary, however, to leave a cash tip if you feel that you have received quality customer service during your visit. The general rule that patrons follow is to leave a tip of €1 per €20 spent. For example, if your overall bill was €80, it would be customary to leave a tip of €4.
However, one more thing to consider is that the expectations for cash tips increase with the overall quality of the restaurant. If you are visiting a particularly sophisticated or more expensive restaurant, you would be quietly expected to leave a larger cash tip – in these instances, a tip of €20 would be more than appreciated by the servers.
In cafés, the expectations aren’t quite as solid. If you have spent a larger amount of money, then it is recommended that you still give a cash tip of €1 per €20 spent. If you have spent a much smaller amount, then it is customary to leave the change or round up the bill to the nearest whole figure. So, if your bill comes to €7.30, then round this up to €8, or perhaps €10 if you are particularly happy with the service you have received.
In bars, the rule is very much the same. Tips aren’t quite as expected as they are in restaurants and cafés, but it is customary to give your change to the bartender or round up the amount after each order. This is at your discretion, and of course you are welcome to give an amount dependent on the quality of service received – for example, when ordering cocktails or multiple different drinks at once, it would be more expected that you leave an extra €1 – €2 as a tip, as this requires far more work from the bartender than the average drinks order.
Tipping In Hotels
In any good hotel, there are helpful staff with all kinds of different roles that are designed to make sure that you enjoy your stay as much as possible. If you feel that these staff are providing a good quality of service to you and improving your overall experience, then of course you may want to tip them to say ‘thank you’.
The standard amount for tips in hotels varies, once again, depending on the role of the team member and the quality of service provided. The amount is also lower than the standard amount for tipping in bars and restaurants, as you are likely to be assisted by the same staff members more than once during your stay.
If you wish to tip the hotel doorman, it is customary to give €1 on your way in or out of the hotel, but this is not generally expected as a rule unless the doorman is helpful to you personally.
When tipping the bellhop of the hotel, it is appropriate to tip €1 per bag that they help you with. If these bags are particularly large or heavy, or the distance to your room is much greater, then of course you may want to increase this amount to show your appreciation of the service.
If you request room service, then you can tip the staff member who delivers this to your room, if you wish – again, around €1 will be more than appreciated. This may be given to the staff member directly or left outside your door with a note. This tip, however, is not generally expected and is given purely at the discretion of the guest.
Hotel cleaners should generally be tipped €1 – €2 per day, depending on the quality of cleaning or the size of the room. For instance, a room that is occupied by a single person on a business trip isn’t likely to require the same amount of cleaning as a room occupied by four friends on vacation, so you should adjust the tip accordingly. The best way to go about tipping your cleaner is to leave the tip on a table in your room, preferably with a note that specifies who the tip is for.
The general rules are a little different when tipping the hotel concierge. If the concierge of the hotel has been helpful to you during your stay, whether that be through answering queries, arranging taxis or recommending a restaurant, then it is customary to leave the concierge a tip of around €5 – €10 at the end of your stay, depending on the quality or amount of service received.
Again, if you are staying in a particularly upmarket hotel, then it may be advised to increase the amount of your tip, just as you would when eating in an upmarket restaurant. However, if you are staying in a chain of hotels or a budget hotel, then it isn’t generally expected that you leave any tips at all – especially as many of these lower-priced hotels don’t usually have a room service menu or employ doormen and bellhops, and the concierge of the hotel is usually simply there to check guests in and out.
There are a range of other services that you may use during your trip that could warrant a tip being given to the member of staff who has served you, depending on how impressive the quality of service given was.
For example, during a visit to the theater – especially in Paris – it is traditional (although, not mandatory) to tip the usher after you have been seated. Most Parisian theater-goers tend to prepare a tip of €2 – €5 for the usher. If you decide to do this, then be sure to have your tip ready whilst being seated so that you don’t have to go fumbling through your pockets, as this will hold up the performance. It is also customary to tip the coat check €1 for their services, though this isn’t usually expected.
If you visit a hairdresser or barber during your stay, then you may wish to tip a few extra euros – around 10% of the overall price is appropriate. However, this is at your discretion and is not expected, especially if you aren’t particularly happy with your haircut. If you are really impressed by the service, then you may also want to give a little more. It is entirely up to you as the customer.
A similar rule applies when tipping taxi drivers. You are generally expected to leave a tip of a few euros, or 5% – 10% of the overall fare, but only if you are happy with the service you have received. If you do not feel that your driver was particularly helpful or friendly, then you do not need to leave a tip on top of your fare. However, if you would like to tip your driver, then take into account the length of the journey – if your journey was particularly long, you should tip a little more than you would for a shorter journey. It’s also perfectly fine simply to round up the change and give this to the driver if that is all that you think is appropriate.
What If I Get It Wrong?
The attitude to tipping is different in France, and Europe in general, to the attitude to tipping in the United States.
In the United States, many servers and staff rely on tips to make ends meet, as their regular flat wage may be far too low to earn a viable living from. For that reason, it is expected that you tip those who are serving or assisting you, as tips are what keep them financially stable. However, this isn’t the case in most places outside of the United States, as employees are usually paid a living wage.
Keep in mind, too, that this may make the way you are served feel a little different – in restaurants, for instance, your servers most likely won’t be checking on you several times during the meal or giving out their name to customers, as there isn’t the pressure there to be over-personal in hopes of receiving a bigger tip.
In most European countries, tipping is simply a sign of gratitude and a way of saying ‘thank you’ to a server or staff member who has gone above and beyond. There are no hard and fast rules on how much, who, or when you should tip – these are simply guidelines.
One other thing to note is that it is always advised that, even where there is a choice between the two, you should always tip in cash and not using a card. While many restaurants or bars will give you the option to add a tip to your bill when paying by card, these tips are less likely to go directly to the member of staff who served you during your visit and often end up getting lost in the overall takings of the establishment.
When it comes down to it, it is as simple as this: if you believe you have received good, friendly or helpful service in an establishment, then leave a tip of an amount that you feel reflects this. It’s especially advisable that you tip if you are going to be making repeat trips to a particular establishment, as this will influence the service that you receive – if you show that you value the efforts of the staff, then the staff will value you as a customer and will make sure that you are well taken care of in return.
If, however, you are unimpressed by the service, or simply can’t afford to leave a tip this time, then don’t worry too much about it – tipping is appreciated in France, but it is not always expected. It isn’t unusual, especially when visiting a chain restaurant, in particular, not to tip at all.
Tipping in France is not as serious as it is in the United States, so you can’t really ‘get it wrong’ at all. It is all about delivering appropriate thanks to those who help and assist you during your trip, whether this is verbally or by giving the person a few euros to show your appreciation. It is all at the discretion of you as the guest or customer, so don’t allow yourself to feel guilty if there are some services that you decide not to leave a tip for – chances are, the staff member or server was not expecting it anyway.Tags: France