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Tipping in Paris

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Having been here for four nights it's a bit late to ask but I need to understand tipping in restaurants in Paris. When it says "service compris" does that mean it is truly included, that a small tip (rounding up or whatever) is expected, or that one is supposed to tip as in North America (I presume not). Would appreciate local advice on this as I don't want to appear cheap, nor to be a spendthrift if the serving person truly is making a decent wage.

  1. There is a recent thread on this from a few weeks ago. My summary from this thread- service is included, and some leave no tips. Others recommend 10 euros for great service and up to 20 euros for phenomenal service, with a separate tip for sommelier (for a large bill).

    6 Replies
    1. re: gjrubino

      I think that is correct.
      Also bear in mind that after the Euro, people have been tending to tip less.
      Tipping was more manageable with the Franc. Now taxi drivers do not expect tips anymore, you just round up to the next Euro.

      1. re: gjrubino

        But too add some context the €10 and €20 tip would be on a €500 bill not a €100 bill at a top restaurant. In the normal scheme of things rounding-up or a few euros (coins) is fine.

        1. re: PhilD

          Right, glad you clarified that for the OP. OTOH we pay for 99% of our meals with a credit card, so there is no rounding-up. However if we dine at a place where we go regularly, we might leave €10 cash on a €100 tab. Generally speaking, I don't think a tip is necessary nor expected at the lower end ( < €150?) , unless something exceptional has been done for the diner.

          1. re: boredough

            But you are from NYC (I assume a tourist in France not a resident) so you are looking at this from a US perspective not European. Your paradigm isn't the European paradigm. However waiters will love you....!

            1. re: PhilD

              Actually I do live in Provence 5+ months/year, and as I suggested, typically we don't leave a tip. But there are a few restaurants we go to every 4-6 weeks, where we are greeted warmly and made to feel very special. For those, we like to thank them for making us feel at home.

              1. re: boredough

                "...there are a few restaurants...where we are greeted warmly and made to feel very special. For those, we like to thank them for making us feel at home."

                Yes. 5% is our standard. Elsewhere, my husband usually sees what seems to be the local custom. It is almost invariably nothing or a few coins.

      2. I admit to being confused about restaurant tipping in particular. Most things you read say service is included by law, but does that mean when it says 'service non compris' that is a lie? Most things you read also say that French people do not tip extra except to round up or in a case where they are very satisfied with extraordinary service. But I know French people that do leave 10% regularly if they are happy with the meal, and two french websites I saw say only that 'normally' service is included but leave 10% extra for good service and more in top restaurants. So it is very confusing and seems pretty variable according to the person and the situation.

        For the hairdresser 10% seems safe, though I know French people who do less.

        3 Replies
        1. re: kkstein

          The locals I know spend big bucks at fine restaurants; if they leave supplemental tips, I have yet to see it. I follow PhilD's rule.

          1. re: Oakglen

            Service in France is a profession. Servers have pride in their work and are rather well paid. What brings a plus to their shift is the diner with whom they establish a rapport, contribute to a meal well chosen and become a party in a memorable evening. A monetary tip is not expected.

            1. re: mangeur

              That has certainly been my experience so I couldn't agree more. Well said too.

        2. Tipping in France is optional. We usually left 5 percent, sometimes more...unless the service was exceptionally bad.

          1. French people leave no tips, except perhaps a few coins (monnaie) if service was good. Anything else is a giveaway that you're a dumb tourist, and some wait staff actually resent it, they feel it's a knock at their dignity. Waiting tables is a respected career in France.

            5 Replies
            1. re: menton1

              Since 2008 I hear more and more appreciation of Americans, British, and Germans who leave tips. It makes sense: times are not easy. I'm not sure why you would try to trick someone into thinking you're not a tourist. It's easy to spot French tourists. Good luck with your accent and foreign manners.

              Of course you're a tourist. If it feels strange not tipping, go ahead and give a small tip, it will be appreciated, even if it's not what the locals do. Round up to the nearest Euro, or the nearest 5 Euro, or maximum 5%.

              1. re: tmso

                It's not a matter of "tricking". It's a matter of respecting the culture while traveling. Some Americans (I have seen this) think they are at home and shout at each other in restaurants. This is not appreciated in France.

                And many French waiters will actually feel insulted at a tip, they look at it as a handout and being disrespectful of their métier.

                1. re: menton1

                  Menton, I think you missed the point: Not tipping or overtipping are never insulting. But tipping too low like leaving a few centimes on a 100 Euros bill definitly is. So either tip properly around 5% or not at all, but not in between,which will be taking badly by the staff.

                  On a Iighter note I remember (before service was included automatically) my father asking if service was included, and the waiter answering: "Oui Monsieur, le service est compris mais pas le pourboire" (yes sir, the service is included but not the tip). He got himself a good tip!

                  1. re: monchique

                    Several long-time waiters have told me that to them, tipping is a denigration of their profession, that it makes them feel "less" and unprofessional, they are quite proud of what they do and proud of doing it well. They are paid quite a good wage and provided all public benefits that go along with that. (Unlike their counterparts in the US) . Perhaps the newer generation of wait staff is more accepting of tips, and times are changing.

                    1. re: menton1

                      I've heard the same sentiment -- and I'm willing to bet that Menton1 and I didn't hear it from the same waiters.

            2. I speak fluent French & lived in France for three years, I never heard such thing as wait staff insuled by receiving a tip. They appreciate it, sometimes confused....it's only a few euros lol.

              7 Replies
              1. re: 4bugs

                I totally agree with this post, except for the "lol" part ;)

                1. re: 4bugs

                  We had lunch at Allard recently. When we mentioned that we had been there several times the waiter wanted to show us the "Gold Book" signed with comments by some of the well known clients like Emma Thompson and Meryl Streep. He was retired but filling in during August. If he resented the tip or went back to the kitchen to mock us, I'd be very surprised. As 4bugs says, it's only a few euros and I didn't know that waiters were independently wealthy. You're kidding yourself and doing a fair bit of rationalization if you think it's an insult.

                  1. re: kenman

                    I would like to put my French grain of salt in this ever reappearing topic, and suggest you take a look at François Simon's blog. If you look at any of his restaurants reviews on http://francoissimon.typepad.fr/ you will notice that, at the end, he shows you the bill and a tip next to it ... So if he tips 5% as a Frenchman and a top professional food critic, may be the practice is not so uncommon, dumb or laughable at after all.

                    1. re: monchique

                      Thank you, Monchique. I notice that one of my posts has been removed. One in which I questioned whether waiters go home satisfied from having participated in other folks' dining experiences and get insulted if they are tipped for excellent service. We often rent in Venice and particularly enjoy a local spot. I sometimes see the waiters walking to the train station late at night to return to their homes in Mestre. We are on friendly terms and I'll ask them how hurt they are when tourists leave some extra euros on the table.

                      1. re: monchique

                        It's my sense that the dumb and laughable over-tippers (i.e., leaving the standard American 20% or more) are, irregardless of their tipping habits, dumb and laughable at table and probably elsewhere.

                        It is my hope that waiters do actually enjoy engaging with diners they serve and being part of a pleasant experience rather than being merely a vehicle for delivering food and drink. Good ones at least give this impression. And we gladly leave them our thanks as well as 5%.

                        1. re: mangeur

                          I haven't noticed anyone recommending the "American" 20%. I have noticed several prople - French, those living in France and those who travel often - recommending 5% or several euros, all depending upon the type of meal and, of course, the service. One should leave whatever amount they are comfortable with. I'm happy to note that, despite your earlier comments, you now agree that 5% is reasonable... in addition, of course, to the "pleasant experience" he or she has had by being part of your evening.

                          1. re: kenman

                            Have you read the entire thread? Or my post on April 7 on this thread? Or done a search on this subject which crops up with regular frequency and where visitors seem intimidated to leave less than the American 20%? Or my and others' responses on previous threads on this subject?

                            Once and for all, we leave 5%. Or if we are with French friends, we follow their example.

                            As you have written, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/553827 "Don't tell anyone but for me ambience est le roi". I would hope that part of that ambiance was your rapport with your waitstaff. It always is with us.