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Tipping in Paris

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J and V Apr 6, 2011 01:24 PM

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.

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  1. g
    gjrubino Apr 6, 2011 01:55 PM

    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).

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    1. re: gjrubino
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      Ptipois Apr 6, 2011 03:20 PM

      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.

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      1. re: gjrubino
        PhilD Apr 6, 2011 08:53 PM

        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.

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        1. re: PhilD
          boredough Apr 7, 2011 05:42 AM

          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.

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          1. re: boredough
            PhilD Apr 7, 2011 07:09 AM

            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....!

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            1. re: PhilD
              boredough Apr 7, 2011 08:49 AM

              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.

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              1. re: boredough
                mangeur Apr 7, 2011 11:08 AM

                "...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.

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      2. k
        kkstein Aug 22, 2011 11:22 AM

        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.

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        1. re: kkstein
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          Oakglen Aug 22, 2011 02:49 PM

          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.

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          1. re: Oakglen
            mangeur Aug 22, 2011 06:09 PM

            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.

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            1. re: mangeur
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              DPGood Aug 26, 2011 06:50 AM

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

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        2. 4
          4bugs Aug 22, 2011 03:00 PM

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

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          1. menton1 Aug 22, 2011 09:42 PM

            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.

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            1. re: menton1
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              tmso Aug 23, 2011 12:33 AM

              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%.

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              1. re: tmso
                menton1 Aug 23, 2011 06:42 AM

                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.

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                1. re: menton1
                  monchique Aug 26, 2011 10:33 AM

                  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!

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                  1. re: monchique
                    menton1 Aug 27, 2011 03:53 PM

                    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.

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                    1. re: menton1
                      sunshine842 Aug 27, 2011 11:54 PM

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

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            2. 4
              4bugs Aug 23, 2011 02:36 PM

              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.

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              1. re: 4bugs
                Rio Yeti Aug 25, 2011 01:58 AM

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

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                1. re: 4bugs
                  k
                  kenman Aug 26, 2011 06:36 AM

                  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.

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                  1. re: kenman
                    monchique Aug 26, 2011 10:16 AM

                    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.

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                    1. re: monchique
                      k
                      kenman Aug 27, 2011 07:50 AM

                      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.

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                      1. re: monchique
                        mangeur Aug 27, 2011 11:56 AM

                        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%.

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                        1. re: mangeur
                          k
                          kenman Aug 27, 2011 04:19 PM

                          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.

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                          1. re: kenman
                            mangeur Aug 27, 2011 06:15 PM

                            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.

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                  2. t
                    thespis Oct 4, 2011 06:57 PM

                    Ok Folks, here's the lowdown on tipping in France.

                    I have worked as a waiter both in France and The US so I can attempt to compare the "culture of tipping" in both countries.

                    #1 : A waiter in France will NEVER be insulted if you offer a large tip ( 10% , 20% off the bill )

                    #2 : on your bill you will see "Service compris" or "Service 15% compris" .
                    The French can be very confusing , and this is a perfect example :

                    Service compris : the waitstaff will be paid through a fix salary no matter the business activity
                    ( about the minimum wage or sometimes a little bit more )

                    Service 15% compris : Their income comes from the bill paid by the customer, before taxes.
                    Nowadays, 2 out of 10 business are still using this method which is traditionaly the oldest. But it is becoming more and more rare. However they will still appreciate a small tip about 5-10% of he bill.

                    #3 : The French are bad tippers because they think waiters are getting 15% of the bill, but in most establishment, it is not the case anymore .

                    #4 : Yes, french waiters LOVE americans !

                    #5 :Their Tip is a a part of their salary and not just a "pourboire" ( literal translation : to get himself a drink )

                    #6 : Waiters in France and in he US are guaranteed a minimum wage per hour :
                    About $6 in the US and 8 EUR in France ( they however, have more taxes in France) .

                    #7 Americans are expected to be generous tipper 10-20%, because waiters know that, unlike the French, American have the culture of showing appreciation for good service.

                    In the US you are kind of obliged to leave 15% of the bill no matter what. Whereas In France, you have no obligations . But if you have a proper service and don't leave anything, be sure to never come back to that restaurant. They will remember you!!

                    To sum it all up :
                    you should leave 10% of the bill if you had good service and about 20% if you had excellent service and were happy with the food and wine recommendation

                    More and more establishment in France are becoming service oriented, that's maybe a sign they are not getting that "15% service compris" anymore....

                    hope this helps.

                    Have a good time in France !

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                    1. re: thespis
                      Jake Dear Oct 4, 2011 08:58 PM

                      Welcome to the forum, thespis. This should be interesting. Much of what you say does not comport with our experience or practice. -- Jake

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                      1. re: thespis
                        Delucacheesemonger Oct 5, 2011 12:52 AM

                        Disagree with most of what said. There have been so many threads on tipping on France, it does not bear repeating.

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                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger
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                          Ptipois Oct 5, 2011 02:44 AM

                          I'm with you and Parigi.
                          It is simply not true that "you should leave 10% of the bill if you had good service and about 20% if you had excellent service and were happy with the food and wine recommendation"

                          "In the US you are kind of obliged to leave 15% of the bill no matter what. Whereas In France, you have no obligations . But if you have a proper service and don't leave anything, be sure to never come back to that restaurant. They will remember you!!"
                          --> Plain false.

                          However there is something true about a waiter feeling insulted with too large a tip. Insulted is probably too strong a word. More likely puzzled and in some cases identifying the generous tipper as a sucker. It has to be said that this does not apply when Americans give a large tip. French waiters expect that. They don't expect it from non-Americans.

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                          1. re: Ptipois
                            Parigi Oct 5, 2011 02:51 AM

                            One working as a consultant for a luxury retailer, I was asked by sales managers why some tourists tip, sometimes quite handsomely, the sales staff. The staff was indeed puzzled, not insulted. And they wanted to make certain it was just an expression of gratitude, not a bribe, LOL.

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                            1. re: Parigi
                              PhilD Oct 5, 2011 03:07 AM

                              Point #2 intrigues me, I thought it was simply the result of how the till was programmed, how waiters get paid is based on how their unions negotiate the wages. I assume they nationally bargain for all hospitality workers with the national industry body as many other French unions do in their specific sectors. Thus waiters get negotiated wages and benefits (paid holidays) plus government benefits like pension excellent free healthcare.

                              Point #3 I suspect the French don't tip because it isn't in the culture.

                              Point #5 tips are nice but I don't believe restaurants distribute the service charge no matter what the wording is in the bill, and they are definitely not part of the salary.

                              Point #6 the minimum wage in the US maybe $7.25 but it doesn't apply to "tipped staff" i.e. anyone who would be expected to earn over $30 a month in tips. The wage can't be lower than $2.13 an hour and should equal, or exceed the $7.25 when tips are included. In France the minimum wage is €9 (US$12) an hour plus tips and benefits.

                              Always interesting that the people who argue most for tips are waiters, ex-waiters or managers in hospitably. I think that is often called "observational bias" - maybe better titled as occupational bias.

                              I will continue to add a little if service is good and won't be put off returning to places if I didn't feel like tipping and I have never noticed any degradadation in service despite repeated visits to some favoured haunts in Paris.

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                              1. re: PhilD
                                Parigi Oct 5, 2011 03:23 AM

                                "Point #2 intrigues me"

                                That is the only point that intrigues you?

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                            2. re: Ptipois
                              h
                              HoosierFoodie Oct 5, 2011 11:54 AM

                              "In the US you are kind of obliged to leave 15% of the bill no matter what. Whereas In France, you have no obligations . But if you have a proper service and don't leave anything, be sure to never come back to that restaurant. They will remember you!!"
                              --> Plain false.

                              So you are saying that if in the US a customer leaves no tip-zero- the staff won't remember the customer? No, not if the non-tipper doesn't come back for a long time but, in the short term, or when you give them your CC, from all the wait staff I have ever known...Oh, they'll remember who stiffed them.

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                              1. re: HoosierFoodie
                                p
                                Ptipois Oct 5, 2011 12:44 PM

                                No, I'm not.

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                                1. re: HoosierFoodie
                                  Parigi Oct 5, 2011 12:48 PM

                                  :-)
                                  Please quote correctly.

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                            3. re: thespis
                              Parigi Oct 5, 2011 01:25 AM

                              The only thing I would agree with may be that no waiter in the world would feel insulted by a tip, large or small.
                              As for the rest, much of it makes me smile.
                              "you should leave 10% of the bill if you had good service and about 20% if you had excellent service"
                              So what is the shakedown rate, oops, I mean tips, should I leave for bad service?

                              And I agree with DCM that the questino of tips is a recurrent theme that goes nowhere, and people have opinions ranging from vehement to very vehement.

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                              1. re: thespis
                                k
                                kenman Oct 5, 2011 03:23 AM

                                Thanks for the "tips," Thespis. I was disappointed, however, that you did not comment on the pleasure waiters derive from being part of others' dining experience and establishing rapport with the clients, and how that enjoyment more than made up for the lack of a tip.

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                              2. menton1 Oct 5, 2011 06:41 AM

                                Well, thespis, I would like to know where you worked in Paris as a waiter, and some of your waitering experiences there--

                                As Jake Dear said, much of what you say is not what folks who have experienced Paris have seen, rather mostly the opposite!

                                As far as being insulted by a tip, Parigi, yes they are! It says to them that they are not paid well enough, or puts them on a lower plane, so YES many do get insulted!

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                                1. re: menton1
                                  Kurtis Oct 5, 2011 02:49 PM

                                  I could understand that a waiter can be insulted by a large tip, but insulted enough to return a part of the tip to the customer I have yet to hear about.

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                                  1. re: Kurtis
                                    t
                                    thespis Oct 5, 2011 05:03 PM

                                    Whoa !
                                    14 replies in 1 day! I 'm glad people is taking this subject to heart.

                                    Yes as a waiter you need to enjoy making your customer happy, much like any salesperson in retails or any other industry. But much more in the hospitality business, because the gratification is immediate, and you are happy people enjoyed the food you recommended and they had a good time.

                                    I used to work in very fancy international venues and well known brasseries in Paris. I enjoyed serving foreigners because I could help them discover food they never had before, and I was glad they enjoyed my recommendation. Speaking english really helped.

                                    I used to work in Southern California 10 years ago, I was paid $7.00/ h and was making pretty decent tip per day ( over $200/day)
                                    Can anybody on this thread share their experience as a waiter in france or the US?

                                    What I'm trying to explain is that the condition in the hospitality business nowadays in France and the US is becoming similar.
                                    Although in France, YES there is paid vacation AND health benefit , but this is the case for everyone working in France, and the french pay High taxes for that, aboout 40-45% of their income : 20% goes for health and retirements 20-25% for country taxes. So at the end of the day a waiter in France will bring home 5EUR / h .

                                    About point # 2

                                    I was confused as well, this is why i went to a very respected website in hospitality:
                                    http://www.lhotellerie-restauration.fr/
                                    I paid my 20EUR subscription and asked my question to an expert in hospitalities laws and regulations.

                                    The answer was What I stated earlier:

                                    Service compris : the waitstaff will be paid through a fix salary no matter the business activity
                                    ( about the minimum wage or sometimes a little bit more

                                    )

                                    Service 15% compris : Their income comes from the bill paid by the customer, before taxes.

                                    I was confused as well...

                                    @Jake
                                    "Much of what you say does not comport with our experience or practice. -- Jake "
                                    Can you explain?

                                    @PhilD
                                    Yes the unions negociate the wages 9.00EUR/h minimum for most employes vs 9.30EUR minimum in hospitality business

                                    @menton1
                                    When you leave a 15% tips to waiters in the US , are they insulted?

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                                    1. re: thespis
                                      t
                                      tmso Oct 6, 2011 03:10 AM

                                      Those mythical waiters who hold grudges against people who don't leave tips, and expect some sort of a percentage tip, rather than a pourboir. They must have a really, really hard time here, since NO ONE behaves as what you're describing as normal.

                                      Franchement c'est n'importe quoi

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                                2. The Chowhound Team Oct 6, 2011 05:12 AM

                                  We've had to remove a number of angry responses from this thread, and the discussion as a whole is increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock this topic now.

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