HOME > Chowhound > France >

Discussion

Tipping in Paris

I am consistently confounded by the topic of tipping in France and would be grateful for the bottom line.

We will be dining in a range of restaurants and would like to tip appropriately and well (assuming that service warrants it).

Can you advise as to what percentage of the bill to leave? Or, if there is another way to think about it, please advise.

In case there is a different answer depending on the restaurant, we will be dining at Taillevent, Salone d'Helene, Le Chateaubriand, Spring, Le Comptoir du Relais, Au Bon Accueil, l'Epi Dupin, Fables de la Fontaine, and Ze Kitchen Gallerie.

Many thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Tip and tax is always included in the restaurant bill anywhere in France. Being a poor student, I've never actually tipped, but if the service warrants it, I would assume around 10% of the bill would the be maximum for exceptional service. I know in Switzerland, where the situation is the same as in France, this is the case. I have heard rumours that the servers never actually see any tips, so if you wanted to tip, I'd advise 10% as a maximum. :-)

    1. Americans are notorious for over tipping in Europe in general, myself included (i.e. our standard 15%-20%). And I say that if you can afford it, keep up the good will.

      1. When dining out in restaurants, my French friends rarely leave anything extra. They will leave the small change in a cafe.

        2 Replies
        1. re: PBSF

          I found this link on the UK site "Observer Food Monthly" - it is a good guide based on the countries I know:

          http://www.protravelgear.com/protrave...

          As you can see in France they indicate that service is included but you should leave change (a few euros), or in "touristy restaurants" 5 to 10% and in taxis simply round up to the nearest euro.

          One problem with this guide though. When a waiter, taxi drivers, porter etc hears an American accent their expectations increase dramatically.....!

          1. re: PhilD

            Thanks for the guide! I am a bottom-line twenty percenter at home in NYC, I always ask waiters in France if service is included, and they always say yes, but my conscience won't usually let me get away with leaving around ten percent. I see that I've been doing the right thing....

        2. Thanks all for your input and thank YOU PhilD for the guide. I have printed it and will keep with my passport!

          PJ

          1. I do hope that none of you think you need to tip 10 percent or more. As someone who lives in France, and often eats with French people, I can assure that that we don't do this! Sometimes a waiter will try to mislead you and tell you that service is included, but the tip is not. This is designed to confuse tourists and make you feel guilty.

            You are already paying tax and service in the price quoted - I don't see why this should have any impact on your conscience. It is polite to add a little, to round up, or whatever. But why anyone thinks they should add 10-20% is beyond me. It is not necessary, and makes things more difficult for the rest of us.

            1. A good friend of mine, who owns restaurants in Paris, told me "Don't tip!"

              Unless you are comped... then a tip is only courteous and fair.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ChefJune

                Quick question about the term "comp". I was at a restaurant bar once and the bartender was very friendly with a group. I noticed too that their wine was served in tall bordeaux glass while I got the stubby kind. So I asked the bartender what they were drinking and ordered the same expecting the same tall bordeaux glass. She brings me my wine again in the stubby glass. When I asked why there was a discrepancy between glasses she responded "well, they comp me". What does that mean in this instance?

                Thanks!

                1. re: Chinon00

                  "Comp" generally refers to when the chef sends you out a special dish or meal and you are not billed for it.

                  I'm not at all sure what the bartender you refer to meant in her remark. Sometimes when customers get to know bartenders or servers, they will specifically leave some wine in their bottle for the person to enjoy at the end of the evening. Perhaps that's what the bartender meant.

              2. Having lived in France for multiple years and large number of French relatives who live in Paris and outside in more distant locals, I know that the French think we are crazy to tip like we do in French restaurants. Service (tip) and taxes are included in the price of the dish listed on the menu. It is customary and appreciated to leave a couple of Es unless as Chef June has pointed out, you are comped, then you should tip much more generously. Conversely, owning a French bistro in Sonoma County wine country in CA where we get quite a few foreign visitors, they expect that service and taxes are included on our menu. Unfortunately, our servers many times get little or no tips from these visitors.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Pammel

                  Never tip in a France restaurant.

                2. if you really want to tip, 4-6% is fine - but you should only do this if you really thought the service was good.
                  when you have coffee at a cafe (esp. at the bar), you can leave pennies. i found this really hard to do - i kept expecting the waiter to run after me on the sidewalk and throw the change at me! it seemed like such an insult! but that's how things work there.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bob Loblaw

                    When I was there last spring I left about 10 percent at a restaurant where the owner waited on my husband and I (we also stayed and talked to him while he was closing up and bought him a glass of champagne). The food had been so amazing that we returned the next night and the owner sent out an extra amuse as well as bought us drinks after the meal. I just think that if the service is really good the waiters do really appreciate that little bit extra. On the other hand we left nothing extra at Les Bouqinistes(sp)

                  2. When you pay by credit card, there is no spot to add an additional gratuity. Take this as a hint that it is not necessary. I tip 20% in the US and nothing in France (if I pay cash, I round up and leave the change). I think this is very acceptable.

                    1. However, if you're paying by credit card and would like to leave something additional, you can always tell the person running the card through the machine to make the bill "from XXX" amount. They can then add the extra gratuity into the bill right there. I have found this very helpful throughout Europe.

                      However, we often do not leave extra unless we are in an extremely fancy restaurant or have had truly exceptional service. This goes for Britain as well...