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Tipping [Moved from France board]

  • Dapuma Jun 10, 2011 09:47 AM
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From my understanding in France

You are not supposed to tip in restaurants and dont tip bartenders either

For Taxi drivers do you tip them? What about if you have towncar service - is tipping expected?

Just want to make sure as the customs are very different than the US

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  1. I'm not sure that one is "not supposed to tip". Tips are indeed welcome, and I always tip, but it's not usually the same 20 percent as the U.S. I always leave between 10 and 20 euros in restaurants. In cafes for a drink or coffee, I leave the change or a euro or two. For cabs, I round up for the tip.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Nancy S.

      l give 10% on cabs that seem to go the proper shortest distance, none on those that 'give me a ride'. At restaurants with very rare exception, round up, thus 18.30 euros becomes 20. 190 euros becomes 200.

      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

        Cab drivers no longer expect tips since the Euro replaced the franc. Sometime, when I do tip (which happens rarely and only as a roundup), they look astonished. But both cabbies and waiters know that Americans tip, so they expect it from them. They don't expect it from natives.

        1. re: Ptipois

          Perfect, now l don't have to tip cabs. Thanks.

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            You don't *have* to indeed, but from you they'll expect it. Tricky, eh?

            1. re: Ptipois

              You mean l can't pass for a native Frenchman ? l am astonished.

          2. re: Ptipois

            Very solid advive from DCM and Ptipois.

            I always rounded up leaveing any (or a few) coins that came as change but not notes. And if paying with my Carte Bleu (a french debit card as few banks issue French credit cards) I don't recall an option to add a tip so didn't.

            In my years in Paris I was a regular at many places and recieved better service as time went on which disproves the oft qouted theory that by not tipping you will suffer poor service over time. OK you will also get good service on your return if you tip heavily - waiters are not stupid - but you don't need to,.

            Re: towncars. Never used them so can't really say, I never understood why the service exists it is very expensive an IMO no better than the cab service at CDG, You very rarely wait for a cab more than a couple of minutes (and I travelled through CDG on average once a week for a few years) and they are pretty clean and modern (unlike many US cabs).

            1. re: PhilD

              Cabs around here are dirty and the drivers are sometimes shady - and dont always arrive on time

              So I aranged for towncar service from all the airports and train stations, didnt plan on taking them in the city just the prearranged times when we will have lots of luggage - didnt want to deal with waiting for a taxi or having any uncertainty when there is a set time for us to be someplace

              Good to know that the taxis inside the city are newer and nicer than in the US - here it is 50/50 if you get a nice or poor taxi

      2. This is very good advice from David Lebovitz:

        "Tips are always included in the amount shown on the check. In Paris, it’s fine to round-up in smaller restaurants, such as if the check is 19€, it’s okay to leave 1€ extra if you get very good service, but never required. In general, it’s acceptable to leave up to 5% extra for very attentive service. But some Parisians get upset that Americans leave generous tips, rightfully fearing it will lead to future earnings expectations."

        I round up when I pay with cash (if it's convenient) but I don't go out of my way to leave a few extra euros and I rarely add extra when I pay by credit card. There is no shame in not leaving extra.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tortoiseshell

          As usual very good advice from David.

          I like the subtle way he tunes it to his audience knowing many Americans feel very uncomfortable in not tipping thus creates an allowable/acceptable 5% which is just enough but not too much.

        2. French folks almost NEVER tip, only tourists tip. Someone above said 10 or 20 Euros tip??? Aaargh. An embarrassment. If you must tip, leave a few coins, all less than a Euro. There is no slot, like in the US, to leaved a tip by credit card. I do like their system of bringing the CC machine to the table, the US should adopt that!

          32 Replies
          1. re: menton1

            As Ptpois said, cabbies and waiters expect tips from Americans, of which I am one. In college, I was a waiter, and since then, I tip, perhaps excessively, but, in my experience, it's not an embarrassment.

            1. re: Nancy S.

              "In college, I was a waiter, and since then, I tip" - I wonder if your perspective would have changed if restaurant staff in the US had nationally bargained pay rates, overtime rates and holidays: as they do in France.

              Your waiter in France has a lot of legal protection and enjoys (relatively) good conditions, as a result restaurants watch their staffing levels carefully and generally slightly understaff - over staffing would be a nightmare as their is a lot of legislated employee protection.

              A long way of illustrateing why tips are not required - they all earn far more that $2 an hour.

              1. re: PhilD

                I totally agree. I too used to work as a a waiter in the US, but distorting a culture is not my idea of a good thing.
                After speaking with waiters, hotel staff, etc it is clear to me that many low paid jobs in the US which rely on tipping for a living wage are PROFESSIONAL jobs in many countries in Europe with commiserate pay and benefits. The fact that there is no option to add a tip on a cc slip is a strong indication that one is not expected (altho the converse is not always true e.g in Thailand where a service charge is added many hotels that cater to Americans have now added a line on the cc for a tip - including on my charge for the room(where 10% or more has already been added))

              2. re: Nancy S.

                It's not an embarrassment because you haven't realized how much it isn't done in France...the servers will never return it to you (would you?), but you can bet they might be chuckling about the stoopeeed american.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  Wow! Since I try quite rigorously to approach France not behaving in this way, I will revise my approach. This was certainly not my intention. It's a bit sad to me that my actions have been labeling me as stupid.

                  1. re: Nancy S.

                    No, I don't think you're stupid...but I have overheard waiters talking about American visitors, and more than once I've heard them say that they like having Americans at their tables because they always get a huge tip, chuckling as they slip the money in their pockets. (crazy and stupid were used in a couple of the conversations I've heard)

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      I feel for the wait staff in NY, LA, and Florida - imaging what they might say when the average Jean comes to visit & doesn't tip at all. Cultural norms are a heck of a thing to overcome.

                      1. re: DaTulip

                        yup.. Used to wait tables in FL, so been there, done that. A lot of people knew, and a lot more asked...so we actually only got hung out to dry once in a while (only a little more frequently than being hung out by a born-and-bred American!)

                    2. re: Nancy S.

                      I think it may depend on what you want. I usually leave a 5% to 10% tip for good to extra service. I consider courteous help with my language barrier good service. If I return to a restaurant, I am usually greeted with a smile and warm welcome for the “stupid American” even from previously dour servers along with extra good service. Often, servers have recognized me from years past with a warm greeting and outstanding service. I appreciate this and I admire the skills of European servers.

                      1. re: BN1

                        Yes, we adhere to the culture that tipping isn't necessary and that it should never be overdone. I also read how DCM's occasional special treatment is the product of his familiar relationship with the house, friendship and the exchange of small gifts and favors.

                        But I also understand BN1's sentiment. My husband and I are very specially received in a handful of places where we return year after year, and I really can't believe that it is because we are so charming and adorable. But, who knows...

                        1. re: mangeur

                          Of course it is because you are so charming and adorable.

                        2. re: BN1

                          This was my intent as well. For a dinner at Passage 53, for example, with an glass a champagne each, a bottle of lovely wine and three set menus (for my daughter, my husband and me), a 10 to 20 euro tip doesn't seem excessive. Still, I do not want to be an embarrassment.

                          1. re: Nancy S.

                            Watch what French people do when they pay the bill. 99% of the time, they leave ZERO, even at better restaurants!

                            Waitering (is that a word?) in France is a career, not a fill in for students, or a way station in between jobs... That's why, in France, I've had better service from a single waiter for our table than I've had in the States with 2 waiters and 3 bus help! Training, know how, and dedication pays off!

                            1. re: menton1

                              Following the lead of locals is a key in many situations.

                              1. re: menton1

                                Well put.
                                It's simple, really: don't tip.

                                1. re: menton1

                                  My close friends in Paris must fall in that other 1% as they always leave a tip when we have been their guests for dinner at a nice restaurant, i.e., Le Bristol, Chez Géraud, etc.

                                  My feeling is that there is no iron clad rule in any culture as I have asked French friends for years what their opinion is regarding tipping and the answers are all over the place, but much lower than what is usual in the U.S. Therefore I have adopted a policy of leaving about 5% when the service is pleasant in a "good" restaurant. My thinking is that added to the 15% already charged this brings the tip up to the 20% I normally leave in the U.S.

                                2. re: Nancy S.

                                  I think "embarrassment" was an unnecessarily harsh choice of words. I would say that making it a point never to tip waiters in France just because you can get away with it is also pretty embarrassing. I know that there are some French people who won't tip, don't tip. It is nowhere near 99%, and I can assure you that these people also get talked about behind their backs, and the comments are not positive.

                                  Nancy S., now that you know that your tips have been extraordinarily generous for French standards, you can decide whether to modify your habits.

                                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                                    Oh no! not another boring thread on tipping. I thought this board was supposed to be about food. Still, not as bad as Cruise Critic.

                                    1. re: DeppityDawg

                                      DD - not tipping in france isn't "getting away with it" as you already have the wages in the bill and you pay an inclusive service charge: thus tipping is simply doubling up. Your choice.

                                      Do non-tippers in France really get talked about behend their backs? It isn't my experience and I lived there, was a regular at my neighbourhood restaurants and didn't tip - nor did my French work colleagues and we ate out for lunch 2 or 3 times a week.

                                      People often question the price of meals in Paris, well it is because of the wages, social security costs etc of all staff from the washer-up to the chef. Reason Paris closes for 6 weeks in mid-summer is the restaurant staff are on holiday - and they can afford to go. Probably to their little place in the country they are looking forward to retireing to when they get to 60 and can claim their state pension etc....which they hope is topped up with all the generous tips they recieved.

                                      1. re: PhilD

                                        It's not doubling up. The service charge is the waiter's wages, as you said. The tip is a tip. They may not need it (which is not to say they don't appreciate it). They may not expect it (which is not to say that they don't notice if you leave anything or not).

                                        It's a nice thing to do. Why not be nice sometimes?

                                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                                          I have also had conversations with French people that overtipping can be plain offensive -- that here we are, the rich (insert whatever nationality you'd like here) leaving all this money behind so that you poor little people can afford to eat. This is not a majority opinion, but it exists --- that it's not doing something nice, it's a condescending underline of how much better you think you are than anyone else.

                                          Again -- it's not a majority view, but it's important to point out that it's out there.

                                          Also important is that it's called two different things -- the service or gratuity is the amount that's included in your bill. What you leave on the table is called pourboire-- literally "for drinks" -- beer money. It's two different concepts.

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            "I have also had conversations with French people that overtipping can be plain offensive -- that here we are, the rich (insert whatever nationality you'd like here) leaving all this money behind so that you poor little people can afford to eat. This is not a majority opinion, but it exists --- that it's not doing something nice, it's a condescending underline of how much better you think you are than anyone else."

                                            Yes, that is not an uncommon view in France. I have to say that in the present economic context it is becoming more widespread, whether people pocket the tip or not. In the same way that some Americans seem to have a real problem understanding that in France waiters are paid a regular wage and that cab drivers no longer expect a tip since the Euro has made extra gratification a thing of the past, the aforementioned attitude is caused by the fact that very few people know, and are ready to accept, that in another country some jobs are supposed to be partly remunerated from tipping.
                                            However labor uses in the US is not their problem so I still would advise visitors to refrain from tipping they way they do at home. Labor here does not go by the same rules, and if a little rounding up in taxicabs or a few coins left with your restaurant check is acceptable, it should really be understood that tipping is not part of the culture here. It can really be felt as offensive sometimes, in the way described in the previous post.

                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                              I'm not talking about overtipping. I think everyone in this thread understands that an American-style tip is inappropriate in France, and why. Like any cultural misunderstanding, it will be perceived as offensive, embarrassing, funny, charming, awkward, etc., depending on many factors.

                                              There is a range of acceptable tipping practice in middle-of-the-road French restaurants that goes from zero to a couple of euros. Within this range it is up to you what to do. French people often leave nothing, and they often leave one or two euros, and they often leave something in between. I have been with groups of French people and experienced social pressure in both directions.

                                              So I cannot agree that "tipping is not part of the culture here". I don't know if this has always been the case, or if it's true in every part of the country for every French person. But it's enough a part of the culture so that choosing never to leave anything becomes significant. Just like always leaving just the minimum standard tip in the US. I'm not saying not to do it. It's the right choice for some people, for some situations. It may be what most people do most of the time. But it's not the only culturally acceptable practice.

                                              1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                From zero to a couple of euros from time to time from a minority in the population clearly confirms that France does not have a tipping culture...

                                                There was distinctly a bit more of it back in the past, before the Euro as I wrote above. Now I can tell you that any tipping habits have nearly died out aside from the odd rounding up of taxis and restaurant bills, occasional bouts of extravagance from those who can afford it (in high-end restaurants), and of course expected tipping from American tourists.

                                                As for non-tippers getting "talked about behind their backs", sorry, not in my experience either. I don't see that happening in France. But I know that people who overtip are often regarded as a bit crazy or possibly nouveau riche wishing to impress.

                                          2. re: DeppityDawg

                                            I've lived in Paris for 20 years. I'm American and my tendency had been to go out of my way to leave extra. Years ago I tried to leave a big tip (20 euros) on a 100 euros tab and the owner of the small establishment outright refused, embarrassed that I had done such a thing. All of my French friends do not leave extra except for the ones who have lived in the US. And those only round up. Again, there is no shame or "meanness" in not leaving more than what the tab calls for. A few coins is nice but it isn't really linked to what kind of service you will get when/if you return. It's the relationship that you build with the wait staff, chef and owners. Obviously, I have the privilege of doing that since I live here! Tourists can be "nice" if they want but overtipping is what tourists do, not the French. If the wait staff seem to be expecting extra then you are clearly in a place that caters primarily to tourists, a place that probably isn't about the food. I have never experienced waiters that seemed to be expecting a tip or even working for that extra tip. They are what they are--that's what is so charming! Long ago when my mother-in-law visited we went to a cafe and had a fairly surly but efficient waiter. She commented "I don't think the waiter likes us". I laughed thinking, that is an American perspective. I have reminded myself often, over the years, it's a different culture and different social environment. And clearly the issue of tipping is a good example of this.

                                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                                              If I understand correctly in the US you tip because serving staff are very poorly paid - one or two dollars an hour in most cases. So the tip makes the living wage. In France they get paid a fair wage. Thus you are doubling up by importing US tipping standards into an economy which pays serving staff a wage.

                                              "Why not be nice sometimes" - well I think I am, I am polite, say thank-you and show lots of respect, I don't need to offer money to be nice. And if it is simply to be nice why stop at servers? Why not shop workers, or bus drivers, or the flight attendants on the flight over? There is good logic to tip servers in the US because they work for tips (unlike shop workers etc), but I see little logic to tip in countries which pay servers reasonable wages, in fact it could be said to disrespecting the culture of the country.

                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                you understand correctly, Phil -- there's a small movement to change it, but I don't see it having enough momentum to change things, though, for a very long time.

                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                  Servers in California get at least the state minimum wage of $8.00 for 2011. In San Francisco, the minimum wage is $10.00. These wages are in addition to tips. CA overtime is 150% for anything over 8 hrs. per day, 40 hrs. per week and the first 8 hrs. of the seventh consecutive day. It is 200% for anything over 12 hrs. per day or over 8 hrs. on the seventh consecutive day.

                                                  Nine states have the same minimum wage for all employees including those receiving tips, which is above the federal level. They all have their own overtime rules.

                                                  The basic U.S. minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Servers tips are counted against this minimum for anything received above $2.13 per hour, but they must be paid at least the minimum plus any overtime. Overtime is 150% for anything over 40 hours per week.

                                                  While attending college, my daughter was a server during the summer of 1998. She averaged over $14 per hour working in a coffee shop in a small, rural northern CA town. It took awhile after she graduated from a top 25 U.S. university before she equaled that pay.

                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                    I don't hold the door for anyone, but I say please and thank you. I don't recycle, but I call my mother once a week. I don't tip servers in France, but I bring cookies to the office on my birthday. I reckon I'm nice enough...

                                                    We're not dealing with logic here, but cultural conventions. And tipping waitstaff is conventional in France, in a way that tipping bus drivers is not. Leaving one or two euros at a restaurant is not culturally disrespectful. If you don't want to tip, that's fine. You don't have to make excuses for yourself, but don't try to present it as the only logically sound, culturally sensitive choice, either.

                                                    1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                      In the last five years, l have been out to meals with over 40 different Frenchmen, women, old, young, wealthy, not wealthy,Parisians, and provincials and with these friends multiple times can count on one hand when a tip was left other than rounding up. When a bank card was used, never was it even rounded up. Just my experience.

                                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                        DeppityDawg - I am a bit confused. I don't see that rounding up, or leaving a couple of euros is really the same as the US style tipping we are talking about. When people talk about rounding up it is often a couple of euros.

                                                        Other posters were asking about tips of 5 to 20% which isn't done in France. Are you agreeing that 5 to 20% is wrong and that by tipping you simply mean rounding up, or leaving a couple of Euro coins? If so I and I believe others agree.

                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                          Yes, I am talking about French-style tipping in France, which is less than US-style tipping, but still not zero. I was reacting to those in this thread who were suggesting "I see a lot of French people leave nothing, so I never leave anything, and in this way I show my respect for French culture". The fact is that a lot of French people leave something (small change up to a couple of euros), it's part of French dining culture, it's a nice thing to do, and no one is offended by this.

                                                          When (American) visitors ask me for advice, I tip-ically encourage them to leave something.

                                  2. Everything's been talked about, but just to add my two cents (pun-intended).

                                    I'm french, born and raised, lived in Paris all my life.

                                    I always round up the bill in taxis, so if I'm supposed to pay 18.45€ I'll live 20€.
                                    I never tip at restaurants for lunch when it is a short "break from the office" lunch.
                                    I always tip at least 2 euros for dinner, or up to 5 euros sometimes in dinner places (unless the waiter was an ass, in which case I don't tip). And in more high-end places (meaning around 80-100€ per person), I will usually tip from 5 to 10€.
                                    Never been to a really high end restaurant (my first will be in july !), but I will probably tip around 10€ (although if I hadn't read this post I would probably have gone up to 15 or 20... but now realize it may be too much...).

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                                      Rio - assume your tip is for the table not per person?

                                      1. re: PhilD

                                        Yes, sorry should have made this more clear.
                                        Also, the number of people at the table doesn't affect the amount of the tip... although now that I think about it, technically it should...

                                        And also it should be noted I'm more in the "struggling artist" category than in the "wealthy businessman" category... ;)

                                        1. re: Rio Yeti

                                          I wonder if there is an "age" component with younger people tipping more? I always wondered if travel to the US and/or exposure to US culture was changing the underlying tipping culture. I definitely see that younger people in the UK and Australia are tipping more frequently. Or maybe it is simply because younger people are more affluent than in my day (a time of mass unemployment and no casual work) and thus more generous.

                                          1. re: PhilD

                                            Young French people do not tip, either.

                                            1. re: menton1

                                              And they smoke a lot.

                                            2. re: PhilD

                                              I'm 29 (is that young ?... what only one year left ??), but I do have a closer relationship to american culture than most of the people my age, I frequently visit the USA, and speak english fluently. I also frequent far more english speaking food oriented websites than french ones ('cause there aren't any good ones !)... all this probably explains why I apparently tip more than the usual french... maybe.

                                              And I don't smoke !

                                              1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                facinating opinions - didnt expect this many responses

                                                sounds like a couple euros to 5 euros is good and rounding up in a taxi cab

                                                do most taxis take credit cards or is it cash only? Just curious as it is pretty split in the us if they will take cards or not

                                                1. re: Dapuma

                                                  Some cabs only take CCs with an embedded chip, which we do not have in the US. Same problem as buying at a self-serve gas station in France...

                                                  Actually, Credit cards are non-existent in France, the natives are all issued Debit cards by their banks... Amex is the closest thing to a CC, but that has to be paid in full every month, and in France, most businesses eschew the use of Amex, it's just too expensive for them.