Tipping, is it in the bill?
When Dinning at Guy Savoy or ADPA do you need to add extra to the bill for a tip?
In France, gratuity/service is included in the price for food and in the final bill if the menu indicates "service compris". Having said that, it is customary and expected that you leave a little extra for good service in the form of bills and or change, but not more than 5%.
Generally (in most restaurants) you would leave a few Euros (coins not notes) if service was good, but nothing if it was bad. This could be as little as €1 or €2 if you are in a bar bar or cafe. It is a symbolic thank you, because service is in the price, and staff are on negotiated/regulated wages, thus you don't need to tip generously to subsidise wages.
In higher end restaurants like these you can leave a little more, maybe a low denomination note or two, say €20 in total - but 5% would be an absolute maximum.
assume it's in the bill until absolutely and completely proven otherwise.
leaving a bit of money is fine, as others have mentioned, but 5% is really, really high.
I think the real answer is that restaurant tipping in France is "all over the map."
I have met and/or know people who never leave any sort of tip, in any sort of French restaurant, for any reason, regardless of the caliber of service given; they seem to be somewhat proud of having this approach.
Other people will leave a few coins or whatever change would be due, rounding up on the money they left on the table.
Some will leave a fixed percentage up to 5 or even approaching 10% in a very good restaurant where they have received exceptional service.
As a general rule, in a cheap restaurant such as a pizzeria, where you have received indifferent service, leave either nothing or perhaps up to a euro, especially if you don't have correct change and don't want to wait for the server to return with the small amount that might be due you.
In a better restaurant I would consider several things before deciding on what to leave. These would include the caliber of service you received, and most importantly the likelihood that you will return. If you are kind-hearted soul then consider the first one more than the last. I always tip more in places that I expect to return to, than in places that I know from the start are a one-shot experience.
Most of the French residents never tip. Or, if they do, it's just a few coins. "Service Compris" is actually a regulation in France. I respectfully disagree with the above poster that "it is expected".
We've been traveling in Burgundy for 5 weeks now and have been watching to see what the locals do (and in previous trips as well), and it is indeed "all over the map". There is no place on a credit card bill to add a tip, so if you do want to tip, you have to do so in cash (which makes it a bit easier to see what others are doing).
In very casual cafes, locals seem to leave either nothing or just the small change.
In restaurants, there doesn't seem to be any one answer. We've seen people leave nothing and we've seen them leave bills.
We ourselves have left both nothing (even when we've obviously been happy with everything and expressed that to the staff) and up to 5% in Michelin-type establishments. Neither approach seemed to earn obvious scorn or expressions of gratitude, so go with whatever makes you comfortable.
(Although I do have to say that I can't imagine anyone leaving "a few coins" at a place like Guy Savoy -- if you're going to drop $400 per person, you don't leave a 50 cent tip. Either tip or don't tip, in that case.)
It was very easy in the good old days, one left the yellow pieces (your change) on the table - no muss, no fuss, but now alas, with credit cards.......
Before I began reviewing, I left something if I intended to come back (meaning I liked it), now, they all Google themselves qd so they've got'cha as you enter.
My husband goes along with many of the responders. He leaves coin or nothing at the simplest places, often checking out what the locals are doing. When we have had a "heh" dining experience, he will ask me if I plan to return and usually leave nothing.
When we have really enjoyed a place, lovely food and sweet and personal service, he will leave around or up to 5%. We find that when we return to these places we are remembered, if not the first return, certainly the second. We feel no attitude of condescension (i.e., that we are boorish Americans who throw money away) but rather an appreciation/understanding that we have really enjoyed our evening and plan to return.
Finally had a conversation with a friend, a native of France. And he confirms that the French never tip! The only instance that a French person ever tips is if they are "comped" by the kitchen. A few small coins perhaps at a cafe.
Resist your American-bred culture habit of tipping in French restaurants! The French do NOT tip! (So why should Americans?)
This absolutely contradicts my own observations. I spend 2 months a year in France, usually eat out every day, and since I dine solo most of the time I have the "opportunity" to see what other diners do.
I believe this may have been true 10 years ago but it is no longer true. There ARE many French people who never tip, but there are also many French people who do tip. For sure, French people do not leave 15 or 20% tips as is common in North America where the serving staff receives hardly any salary. But many French people DO tip and I see it constantly when I eat out.
I have also had occasion to eat out with French friends and to ask their opinion on a given meal as to what I should or should not leave. I tend to be more generous than perhaps they would be themselves, but they don't tell me I'm being unreasonably generous and they do confirm my instincts to tip in better restaurants (and my instincts not to tip in mediocre ones or where little service was given).
re: Ken Fox
I was an Australian, working for a US company in Paris. My US based visitors always tipped generously (it is in their DNA) my French colleagues never criticised this, after all they are generally very polite as manners are vital in France; and also why deprive their countrymen of a healthy tip? Even when asked about the tip they would be circumspect and give and answer a guest wanted to hear. However, going our with the same French colleagues without US guests, saw them leave a few coins as tips rather than a percentage of the bill. As I said in my earlier post, it was explained to me that tipping is symbolic, not a financial reward, and thus leaving a "few coins" is enough. A 5 or 10% tip, no matter what sort of restaurant, is a US trait. If it makes you feel comfortable fine, but it isn't the norm; and of course people will look after you on your return; they know what to expect.
However, I suppose the bottom line is to ask whether I received worse service in places we frequented regularly, and where we "tipped like locals". I always felt I always received good highly professional service, and it didn't fall off on return visits, after all it is a profession, so poor service would be an anathema. We tend to get on well with the staff and build a relationship as a result we found that in some "impossible" to book local restaurants like Le Comptoir du Relais we could get a Friday night table at short notice, or at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon we could get a 9:00pm "reservation" rather than go on the list: we didn't tip so it isn't always money that facilitates service.
Best advice If you makes you feel good then tip. If you are happy to fit into the French model simply leave a few coins at a cafe or bistro and don't worry about tipping at the top ones. Neither approach will get you into trouble.
I was an American, working for a day 15 years ago in a moderately upscale cafe in Sydney, Australia, owned by an Ozzie friend. I gave the kind of service I'd expect to receive myself in a good American restaurant. The Ozzies, religious non-tippers, were so surprised by the service that I actually got quite a few pretty good tips.
You may draw your own conclusions.
Randy, France and Australia have a lot of similarities, in both countries the wages, benefits and conditions of staff in hospitality are governed by union rates, including overtime, weekend working , etc. As a result staff get a reasonable wage (I don't say good) and don't rely on tips, thus in both countries tipping is not the norm. Obviously this is very different from the US where staff wages are not regulated and staff get token wages, and then rely on tips.
One of the impacts of the French model is that it is very expensive to employ staff, not just the wages but employers also pay employment high tax's to cover state based health, insurance and retirement plans , etc.
The speedy, often abrupt service, from a lone harassed waiter is often the result. The service standard isn't driven by the tipping policy, it is simply that small bistros and restaurants can't afford extra staff: the "mom & pop" bistro with a single cook and a single server is therefore driven by economic necessity rather than the desire for rustic charm.
I used to tip 5-10% unless I was unhappy with something, but a few years ago I asked a French friend of mine (a professor in his 50's) what he did, and he said he never tipped! So I quit tipping, and have never gotten any nasty looks or reduced quality of service.