Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France

Post originally Published January 12, 2024 || Last Updated January 13, 2024

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Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France - Know When to Tip

Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France

Knowing when to tip is an important part of adhering to French tipping etiquette. Unlike in the United States where tipping is expected in most service scenarios, tipping is more nuanced in France. Understanding the cultural norms around tipping will ensure you don’t accidentally offend anyone or get yourself into an awkward situation.

In general, tipping is appreciated but not required at most establishments in France. However, there are certain scenarios where it is customary to leave a gratuity. One of the most common places visitors encounter tipping is at sit-down restaurants. Leave between 5-10% of the total bill when dining out, unless the service charge is already included. Hand the server the tip directly rather than leaving it on the table.

Taxis are another place where tipping is appreciated. Round up the fare to the nearest whole euro or add an extra couple euros for good service. Tour guides often rely on tips as a significant source of their earnings. For a day tour, tip around €5-10 per person. For multi-day tours, tip €2-5 per person, per day. Porterage at hotels and rail stations is typically a set fee (e.g. €1-2 per bag), so be sure to have small bills on hand.
Tip hotel staff €1-2 for room service or helpful concierge service. It's also nice to leave a few euros for housekeeping, especially if you're staying for multiple nights. Some high-end hotels and restaurants may add a service charge, in which case no additional tip is needed. When in doubt, ask the staff directly if gratuity is included.
Remember that tipping culture in France is nuanced. Tipping generously without reason can be seen as rude or condescending. The French value discretion, so avoid overly effusive displays when tipping. A simple “merci” accompanied by a modest gratuity shows respect and appreciation. Know that while tipping is often welcome, it may not be strictly necessary. Use your best judgement when deciding when a tip is appropriate.

What else is in this post?

  1. Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France - Know When to Tip
  2. Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France - How Much to Tip Waiters
  3. Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France - Tipping Taxi Drivers
  4. Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France - Tipping Hotel Staff
  5. Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France - Tipping Tour Guides
  6. Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France - Tipping at Restaurants

Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France - How Much to Tip Waiters

Deciding how much to tip waiters in France can be tricky for visitors. While tipping is customary, there is no concrete standard for gratuity percentages. The amount you tip should be based on the quality of service, the total cost of your meal, and respect for local norms.

A good baseline is to tip waiters around 5-10% of the total bill. However, the higher end of that range should be reserved for exceptional service involving complex orders or special requests. Sticking to around 5% for standard table service is fine for everyday meals. For example, on a €40 lunch bill, a tip of €2-4 would be appropriate based on the effort required.

On the other hand, a more elaborate €100 dinner with wine pairings and attentive service throughout warrants a higher tip of €10 or so. Use your best judgment based on the complexity of your order and time spent attending to your table. An overly generous 20% tip may be seen as showing off, while stiffing waitstaff will be viewed as rude.
When paying, state the total bill including the tip, rather than leaving cash behind on the table. Say to your waiter something like “45 euros” for a €40 bill with a €5 tip included. This discreet approach is preferred over conspicuously displaying the gratuity.

Be aware that some restaurants will include a “service compris” charge of around 15% on the check. This goes directly to the house rather than your individual waiter. You aren't required to leave an additional tip in these cases, but rounding up the bill slightly to the next euro is a nice gesture.
Tip based on the pre-tax amount, rather than factoring in VAT. There's no need to tip on the tax since that money doesn't go to the restaurant or staff. Focus your gratuity solely on the food and beverage totals.
While tips are usually cash only, some venues may allow adding a tip to the credit card receipt. However, cash tips let waiters take home the full gratuity without any being deducted by management or tax authorities.

Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France - Tipping Taxi Drivers

Hailing a taxi is one of the quickest ways to get around many French cities, but knowing how much to tip can be confusing for visitors. While taxi drivers in France make a decent living wage, tips are still an expected part of the custom. Failing to tip is considered rude, while overtipping seems patronizing. Understanding what’s appropriate will ensure you stay on your driver’s good side.

For short in-town rides, tipping 10% is perfectly acceptable. Drivers don’t expect a big tip for quick trips to the shops or to dinner. On a €10 fare, round up to the nearest euro or two for a €1-2 tip. Longer rides, like to and from the airport, warrant a tip of €2-5 depending on the total. Hand the tip directly to the driver rather than just leaving money in the back seat. Say “merci” as you pay so the exchange feels like a reciprocation of good service.
If you have a large amount of luggage, it’s courteous to offer a little extra tip for the help loading and unloading bags. Likewise if the driver provides recommendations for sights to see or restaurants to try, show appreciation through the tip. Avoid over-the-top tips like doubling the fare, which comes off as showboating. Stick to 10-15% for standard rides.

For exceptional service, such as making an unplanned stop or waiting during a long errand, tipping up to 20% shows gratitude for the extra effort. If the driver struggled with directions or seemed unsafe, a smaller 5-10% tip gets the point across. Withhold tips only for severely unsatisfactory experiences involving rudeness, scary driving, or other serious issues.
Some taxis allow adding a tip when paying by credit card. However, cash tips let drivers take home the full gratuity. Since taxis operate as individual businesses, cash ensures the tip goes directly to your driver rather than their employer. Say the fare amount including tip when paying by cash to discreetly incorporate the gratuity.

Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France - Tipping Hotel Staff

Ah, the joys of a relaxing hotel stay in France. From the delight of being pampered at breakfast to the relief of having your bags whisked up to your room, hotel staff provide services that enhance any visit. While tipping is not required, it is very much appreciated by porters, housekeepers, concierges and other hotel employees who depend on gratuities as a vital part of their income. Know whom to tip, when and how much so your generosity is seen as a sincere “thank you” rather than showboating.

Bellhops and porters are accustomed to being tipped €1-2 per bag when escorting you to your room. Have small bills handy when you arrive so you can discreetly slip the tip to the porter along with a polite “merci.” Likewise, plan to tip €1-2 for calling a bellhop to help you down with luggage when checking out. If you really have a mountain of bags, tipping €2-3 per bag is fine for the extra effort. An envelope left daily for housekeeping is also standard at €1-2 per night. If possible, hand it directly to your housekeeper so no one else can pinch it.

The front desk and concierge may go above-and-beyond assisting with reservations, transportation and local recommendations. Tipping €2-5 when asking for special favors shows your gratitude for their help. However, no need to tip for routine tasks like checking in, providing extra towels or hailing a taxi. Discreetly hand the tip to the specific employee who aided you. For room service, include 10% of the bill before tax and delivery fees. You can add it to the bill if paying by card or hand cash to the server.

One exception is that lavish 5-star hotels in France often include a service charge of around 15% added to the final bill. This money goes to an entire staff pool rather than individuals. You aren't obligated to tip further unless employees really wow you with personal service. That said, it's thoughtful to leave a few extra euros in envelopes for your favorite people like the concierge or breakfast servers.

Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France - Tipping Tour Guides

Of all the people who enhance your travels, few make more of an impact than tour guides. These knowledgeable locals offer insider perspectives you’d never discover on your own. Whether leading your group through world-famous museums or hidden neighborhoods, guides bring destinations to life through passionate storytelling and deep expertise. Showing your appreciation through tips motivates guides to keep perfecting their craft.
Though most tour companies pay reasonable base wages, tips from satisfied travelers provide a major portion of guides’ earnings. Standard gratuities run €2-5 per person for day tours and €5-10 daily for multi-day trips. For private tours, tip 10-20% of the total fee. Hand tips directly to your guide rather than leaving money unsecured. Say a sincere “thank you” as you tip so it’s seen as reciprocating excellent service, not showing off wealth.

Consider bumping up tips by a euro or two if your guide conveyed exceptional passion, uncovered unique local insights, or personalized the tour to your interests. Likewise, those handling logistically complex tours with lots of moving parts deserve appreciation for their planning expertise. If you gained deeper understanding of French culture and history thanks to your guide’s talents, show gratitude accordingly.
On the other hand, guides who seemed bored, provided inaccurate information, or didn’t customize to special access needs merit lower tips. No need for confrontational gestures, but giving less sends the message that greater care and expertise is desired. Withhold tips only for severely unsatisfactory experiences like outright rudeness, unsafe actions, or hostility towards certain travelers.
For multi-day trips, tipping a few euros daily allows you to adjust gratuities based on each day’s experiences. Hand tips at the end of each sightseeing block rather than all at once at the end. Guides work hard and have their own daily expenses, so spreading tips out helps them budget. If the total tour fee already includes guides’ tips, no need to double up unless you feel they went above and beyond general expectations.
While cash tips let guides take home the full amount, check first if credit card tips are accepted. Some tour companies distribute pooled tips among all guides. When possible, discreetly hand cash directly to your guide to maximize the impact.

Ooh La La! A Complete Guide to Tipping Etiquette in France - Tipping at Restaurants

Deciding how much to tip at French restaurants follows similar guidelines to tipping your waiter. Yet a few extra considerations come into play that are helpful for visitors to understand. Unlike American eateries where tipping 15-20% is standard, French tipping norms center on discretion and modesty. Mastering the nuances takes some finesse, but avoids awkward situations with confused staff or patronizing displays.

Aim to tip around 5-10% of the pre-tax amount on your restaurant bill. Simple meals or cafes warrant tips at the lower end, while longer fine dining experiences deserve up to 10%. Hand any cash tip directly to your server when paying and state the total bill including gratuity. At high-end venues, say “voici 50 euros” when paying a €46 tab with a €4 tip as a subtle cue. Servers rely on tips to supplement often lower wages. Yet take care not to flaunt largesse.

If a service charge is already added, no need for extra gratuity unless service was extraordinary. Conversely, don’t penalize servers for kitchen mistakes beyond their control. For large groups, check if the tip is already included before doubling up. Resist peer pressure to overtip just as a show of wealth. When dining out alone, modest tips based on the quality of service suffice.

While cash tips are preferred, some restaurants allow adding tips to credit card bills for convenience. However, cash ensures the full gratuity goes to your server rather than being pooled. Discreetly hand cash directly to wait staff whenever possible. If paying by card, don’t write the tip amount – simply total the bill plus tip and sign.Servers appreciate tips in proportion to the care and attention provided. Those going above-and-beyond to ensure an exceptional dining experience deserve higher gratuity. For standard service, no need to overdo it.

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