An Essential Guide to Tipping in France

Tipping in France is fairly straightforward. Follow these handy tips when you order a café crème.

An Essential Guide to Tipping in France

Keep a few euros handy when you’re out and about.

Photo by Nadia Turinsky/Shutterstock

You’ve just finished lunch at a charming French café and received the bill. Your hand hovers over your wallet. Should you leave a tip in France? Yes—if you had good service. Tips are not expected across the board in French restaurants, taxis, and hotels because service is included in the country’s hospitality sector. Unlike some other countries, all employees, from waiters to bellhops, earn a decent monthly wage and have paid holidays and other benefits.

That said, customers can choose to show their appreciation for good service with a gratuity, the amount of which varies on the type of establishment and service. Use these helpful guidelines on tipping in France when you travel there.

Tipping in French restaurants and cafés is not expected

Whether you’re at a local café or a Michelin-starred restaurant, 15 percent is automatically included for service in French restaurants by law. This is indicated on the menu or the bill with the phrase “service compris.” Nevertheless, if you have a friendly or efficient waiter, you can leave a small gratuity (un pourboire), but this is by no means required.

In more touristy restaurants, you might come across audacious waiters who try to tell you that a gratuity isn’t included. Technically they’re right; service is included, a gratuity is not. Regardless, you are not obliged to leave them anything.

For a simple beverage, you can round up to the nearest euro, or leave 20 to 50 centimes per drink. For a meal at a casual café or restaurant, you could leave one to two euros per person. For a fine dining establishment, where the service is much more attentive, you may want to leave 5 to 10 percent.

It’s best to have some change or small bills for tipping because there isn’t the option of leaving a tip on French credit card slips (service is included in the price). You can ask the waiter to add a tip before he punches in the total amount on the credit card terminal; however, you can’t be sure that this actually gets paid to staff.

Tipping taxi drivers and private chauffeurs

Tipping taxi drivers isn’t required; however, locals often round up to the nearest euro or leave up to 5 percent. If the driver helps you with your bags (particularly if they’re large), it’s customary to tip one or two euros per bag.

For a private car service, such as a prebooked airport transfer or full-day car tour, you could tip 5 to 10 percent.

Tipping at hotels

Depending on your hotel, there are a range of services for which you might want to leave a gratuity.

Luggage handlers: one or two euros per bag

A couple of euros is a small price to pay for help with your bags through lobbies, into elevators, and along coridors.

Doormen: one or two euros

Pass on a few notes to those hailing cabs or providing a valet service.

Room service waiters: a few euros

It is courteous to give a couple of notes or coins to the staff who bring your meals. Ask at reception for change or details to the nearest ATM when you check in.

Housekeeping staff: two to four euros per day

More unsung heroes who help our trips go smoothly. You can pass on the money directly or sometimes leave it in an envelope.

Concierge: five to 20 euros

If you’ve asked your concierge for a restaurant reservation or to arrange other services, then you should tip five to 20 euros, depending on what they’ve helped you with.

Tipping in spas or beauty salons

In France, you should tip hairdressers, beauticians, massage therapists, or other wellness professionals 5 to 10 percent, so you may want to slip this into your pocket beforehand.

Gratuities for theater ushers

Although ushers should be paid a salary, in private theaters it’s customary to tip a euro or two. So, if you’re going to the opera, a classical concert, or play, have some coins handy.

Tipping for tours, classes, and other tourism services

This is where tipping can get a little fuzzy in France. If you book a private tour, class, or excursion directly with a guide or instructor, you’re usually charged a flat fee and thus tipping is not expected. If you book via an online booking platform, a tour company, or your concierge, you could leave a 10–20 percent gratuity if you’re happy with your experience. If you have any doubts, check your booking confirmation; information about tipping is usually included in the fine print.

In recent years there has been a proliferation of “free tours” in major cities. Although advertised as “free,” the guides have to pay a set amount (around two euros) to the tour company for each person who shows up at the beginning of the tour—even if some inevitably drop off along the way. Therefore, if you take one of these tours, and you enjoy your guide, consider leaving at least five to seven euros per person so the guide can, in turn, tip the waiter at his local café.

>> Next: 5 Charming Villages in the South of France for Your Next Road Trip

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