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Tipping in Paris?

I have been reading in the various guidebooks that the tip in a restaurant is usually included in the meal (can't recall the exact French term for "gratuity included", but if you really like the service, go ahead and give an extra euro or two. Just wondering what some of you think about the tipping issue.
What about tipping the person at curbside check-in at the airport when you check in baggage, the airport shuttle driver, and taxi drivers?
Guess I'm just used to tipping everyone when I travel in the U.S., but this is my first trip to Europe/Paris.

Thanks for any advice!
Veronica

Posted by
10344 posts

Rick's gives suggestions on tipping in his books.Here's more tips from Europeans on tipping: Tipping tips from EuropeansAnd more tips: more tips on tipping in Europe

Posted by
7973 posts

Can I add something to the tipping discussion? Though it is true that here in the EU, servers get paid a regular wage with benefits, unlike in the US, that "service charge" that you see at the bottom of your bill does not go into their pocket at the end of the week. It goes to the owner. So please, if your service has been good, go ahead and tip 10%. Servers do enjoy waiting on Americans, Canadians, Brits and Australians, not only because the tips are better, but we are also more polite, saying please and thank you. YAAY for all of us. I have seen servers in tears after waiting on a large table all evening, doing their best and then having the person paying, just round up, and all they got was a euro or so. Waiting tables is truly one of the hardest jobs in the world. (just to qualify myself that this is from experience and not a book or website, I used to be a restaurant manager here in Frankfurt)

Posted by
11450 posts

"what some of you think about the tipping issue" .

I think Americans worry about it too much,, because it is more important in the States, and even though they read that it is not as important in other countries,, deep down they just have a time accepting that leaving a coin or two in most cases is just fine.

I don't use porters.
I round up for taxis. Never that much, maybe a euro or two. For airport run I may round up to nearest 5. There is a one euro sur charge for each suitcase in a taxi, so why tip on top of that??
Waiters in cafes ,, for light meal or snack. Just change.

I wouldn't tip a shuttle bus driver, unless he carried my bag , loaded and unloaded it,, but I haven't had that experience.

I know this may sound harsh,, but really , the average europeon just does not find this hard hearted. Wait staff are better paid then there are in the States, you will note many waiters are not young kids, but grown men who do this as a career, they get medical etc,, not like the poor college kid in the States getting 3 bucks an hour.

Of course it is nice to give someone a little something extra if they do something nice or extra for you.
I tipped our hotel maid this past trip, I asked for extra towels on first day, and she made sure we had extra towels every day after that, I apprieciated that.

I also gave the waitress in our breakfast room a carnet of metro tickets when we were leaving, she was thrilled, I asked somewhat hesitantly as I assumed she likely had a pass, but she reacted very happily to the offer.

So, yes, be nice and tip when YOU WANT to, but no, you are not EXPECTED to , and no one will hate you..

PS I do wonder if at some very touristy places that are frequented by Americans in particular( like Rue Cler area because of RS) if more waiters expect tips from Americans because Americans just tip anyways?? I am wondering about this, I have no idea?

Posted by
632 posts

Just an observation...I noted in one of the recommended tipping guides (Switzerland) that he recommended tipping "hotels" 1 to 2 SF per day...In the US I tip the doorman, and I tip the bell hop, and any room service that I request (I have tipped the concierge also, but I'm not sure that it was appropriate)...but who else in the hotel should receive a tip...if you think the room cleaning staff should get a tip, how do you get it to them (you're gone when they show up)and would you tip daily or at the end of the stay (recognizing that for longer stays, the staff may have turned over)?

Posted by
11450 posts

Bill, when I tip the hotel staff in Europe( and I do not always) I leave it on either my pillow, or on my bedside table, on a peice of paper, and on the paper I always write " Merci Madame" or whatever language . It to me is nicer then just leaving the cash with no note. I also tip each day,, as you are correct, a different maid could do your room each day.
I don't use a concierge or stay in hotels that even have them as a rule, so I don't tip them. I do ask hotel desk clerks for help sometimes, but I don't tip them as I think it is kind of rude, you don't tip bank tellers or lots of other people that answer questions for you right?

I don't use room service, or porters either so no help here. I imagine the standard one euro per bag would be normal.

I know this really worries Americans, but remember, most Europeons rarely tip, and Australians and Brits are not known for tipping much if ever either( there are exceptions) .
I think it also depends on type of travel, if you stay at a four plus star hotel , or eat in Michelin starred restaurants, well, I imagine( and imagine is all I can do on that) tips would be more prevelant and more generous.

Posted by
7973 posts

Yes, please do leave a tip for the housekeepers in your hotel. Even if it is just a small amount each day. Believe me, this is a backbreaking job and on some occasions quite "icky" if you catch my drift. In smaller hotels, it isn't quite as bad, but in big hotels they work under extreme time pressure. Most of them are foreigners and welcome any extra money they can get as they may be supporting an extended family in a 3rd world country. I have seldom seen a German housekeeper in a big hotel. One does not tip a front desk clerk. Again, I speak from experience here.

Posted by
632 posts

Thank you Pat and Jo...that's advice I can use....while we don't normally stay at 4 or 5 star hotels in Europe (because it does tend to separate you from the Europeans and into large "American" style hotels), we have used them when appropriate in the US.

Posted by
59 posts

This is straying a bit from the original question, but this maybe shows the preconception that Americans are generous tippers. A few years ago I had my opa's antique desk shipped from Germany. When the movers came to my cousin's house I watched in shock as they carried the desk down two flights of stairs, put it in a truck with very little padding, secured only with a rope, all done in under 10 minutes. I wasn't sure what to do in this case, especially with the shipping being so expensive already. As they drove off they yelled out the window about the cheap American not tipping. Fortunately, the desk arrived 8 weeks later at my home, in a proper shipping carton, in good condition. Oh, and I did tip at this end.

Posted by
7973 posts

I do beg to differ that "no one will hate you" if you don't leave a tip. They may not hate, but they sure will be disgruntled. If you could only go back in the kitchen and hear what the staff has to say you would be surprised. If you worked in a restaurant here, you would know which countries tip well and which ones don't. Oh, and that man doing it for a career, he probably has a degree in something from his native land, but isn't allowed to practice it in the EU. Waiting tables is one of the few jobs you can do in Europe without having formal training. Yes, you can make a good living waiting tables, but it still is a very hard job with crappy hours. You have to love restaurant work or you can't do it. Sort of like being a cook. Sorry to hear those moving guys were rude, they do usually expect a tip, depending on how heavy an item it is and how many floors. Glad to hear your desk arrived safely.

Posted by
11450 posts

Gee Jo,, first the question was tipping in Paris.

My answer is based on what is normal , for the average french person to do, in Paris.

Rounding up is normal , unless in a fancy place.

Yes, I bet places do like Americans since they tip, but I am sure they do not snicker about Madam Dupree from down the street leaving her coins,, that is a riduculus assumption. I do wonder what type of place you managed.

Posted by
10251 posts

I suggest tipping the skycap at the airport.

I remember once waiting to check my bag with a skycap. Two men in front of me gave the skycap a hard time and didn't tip. When it was my turn, it went smoothly and I handed him a couple of dollars. "My bag will get there, won't it," I asked smilingly. "Your bag will definitely get there, " he said. "I can't guarantee that for those two"--and he pointed to the two men who were in front of me.

The term "gratuity included" in French is "servis compris." (BTW--I can confirm what Jo wrote--the server may not get it. Some restaurants keep it so leaving a few coins extra is a nice touch.)

And the housekeepers are the least appreciaed (tip-wise) yet they usually do more for you than any other hotel employee.

Posted by
7973 posts

You have asked what kind of restaurant I managed and that is a valid question. But first, may I ask on what you base all of your statements? Have you lived in France or Europe, have you worked in restaurants here? Do you have family members or friends that have worked in restaurants or hotels here? I guess I am just shocked that my explanations that come from years of experience here would be considered "assumptions". Thank you. I was only trying to explain some misconceptions about the "service charge". As to my experience. I managed a steak restaurant which is a large chain here in Germany. I worked in 3 of their restaurants in Frankfurt. All were in the downtown area, which meant that during the big trade fairs we were swamped with people from all over the world, and the rest of the time with Germans and of course tourists. So, yes, I really do know how different countries tip, their politeness level, etc. I also know what all my servers earned and what they thought about their customers. Seriously, you would be shocked. I also owned a small pub here for 2 years, just to cover the bar questions and I was also a hotel manager. I hope I answered your questions to your satisfaction.

Posted by
4555 posts

Jo....here's one for you. Do the crews at restaurants and bars really "take revenge" on customers that are surly, unappreciative, etc....if you know what I mean.

Posted by
264 posts

Rick's Paris guidebook is very explicit on tipping custom and pratice! I've always followed his suggestions to the letter! I'd suggest to first-timers that they do the same.

Posted by
7973 posts

I know that it happens, but I personally have never done so and I have never seen anyone do it. If I had, I would have fired them on the spot. This is the kind of thing that happens more with teens in fast food joints I think. The most common thing is the staff carrying on back in the break room, especially about the regulars who have odd quirks, etc. They would say check out table 23 and we would all kind of casually stroll by to see what the waitress was talking about. I think any group of people that works with the public is like that. Ya come home with lots of funny stories.

Posted by
4555 posts

Jo....write a book...it would be a scream I'm sure! And maybe it'd give us a few "tips" as well :)

Posted by
7973 posts

Well, there is a book out there called "Kitchen Confidential" that is fairly accurate though a bit on the extreme side. It is more about New York and high powered restaurants then the regular places. Still an interesting read and my husband caught me laughing and nodding my head in agreement while I was reading it. (yeah, I used to cook too)

Posted by
152 posts

Lost in all this rather personal discussion, is the reality that Paris is not Frankfurt. This topic has been beaten to death on Trip Advisor and many other sites. One of the things that makes the situation in France unique is the wording of the legislation concerning service charges(you can read all about it using the serahc function on Trip Advisor). For those that care to read it, it is abundantly clear that the intent of the legislation was(is) to provide a gratuity to the restaurant staff and also to remove the obligation of patrons to tip. As has been noted by numerous folks, it is routine to round up, or leave a few Euro's, but to suggest wait staff will be in tears if they don't get their 10-15% tip in France simply ignores the reality. Anyway, people need to chill and do as they feel appropriate. And lectures or guilt trips based on personal experiences in another country add little to a specific question about Paris. So it would be a great idea if people took the emotion out of this discussion and stuck to facts. Peace...

Posted by
7973 posts

I have done nothing other than state facts. I was asked for personal information and gave it. Do you really think things are that different in Paris than Frankfurt? It would be great if some people from France would jump in here or some other people who had actually worked in restaurants and therefore also have facts to relate. I will stick by my original statement that servers do not receive the "Service Charge". And now I am done. People will do whatever they want and that is ok. I only thought to inform cause I thought folks might be interested in having an inside view. It is kind of a shame though, to relate a true experience and then have it treated as though I had made it up. Sheesh. I'm goin to bed.

Posted by
152 posts

Well again, an interesting personal opinion, but if you're trying to suggest that every restuarant in France keeps the entire service gratuity and shares none of it with the wait staff...while simply put that's not factual. Again, if people want to read about this on trip advisor you will find many people in France commenting on this issue. Opinions will vary, but yes, Paris is different than Frankfurt, and the legislation in France is French legislation, and by definition unique.

Posted by
11450 posts

Jo,, you need to accept this, you are not the only one who has worked in a restuarant, knows what waiters think, or how other nationalities tip.

I was going to type a long explanation of my own experience , but there is no point.

French people are not tippers , they leave some small amounts, thats it, and yes I have family and friends who were all born and raised in France and will agree, where do you think I learned this from,, here,, ???LOL , of course not.

As to Germany being different then France, it is, the culture and customs are completely different. And my experience with Germans is they are NOT big tippers either.

Are you telling me they are, or that you WISH they were? I mean you had waitresses in tears??

My husband is German, he was born here, but his father was born in Germany. My husband did move back and lived in Germany and managed the family restuarant ( fast food joint really, circa 1980-84) Mr Burger in Hanover .

My father is French, I was also born there, and my fathers family owned and operated the cafe/hotel called the Calvados near the Gare St Lazare in Paris, (which btw still stands), for 40 years( they sold it in early 70s).

I really can't make too much comment about Germany, and since the question is not about Germany,, I guess that is fine.

Posted by
26 posts

I'm reading all of this and thinking about the 20 percent tip I left in Bath last September.
It's been a year. I need to get over it...

Posted by
10344 posts

You made someone very happy, Jennifer--not such a bad thing to do!:)

Posted by
26 posts

Kent, I just read Tipping Tips from Europeans.
Very good! Great reminders!
No reason anymore to feel guilty leaving just 10 percent over there. I just need to work on not feeling cheep.

Posted by
40 posts

Gosh, when I asked this question I had no idea it was going to end up being a "free for all"!

Sorry if I "stirred up a hornet's nest," as we say here in Texas!

But thanks for the tips (bad pun) and the interesting thread!

We leave for Paris tomorrow afternoon. Woo hoo!

Posted by
7973 posts

Have a wonderful time. Enjoy yourselves and have lots of fun. Hope the weather is nice for you and that Paris is everything and more that you thought it would be.

Posted by
10344 posts

Well, Jennifer, glad you enjoyed the link. There's a lot on Rick's website besides the Helpline. And when you said cheep, I thought you meant like a bird.

Posted by
26 posts

cheep/chirp/cheap.

Oh I read the other things on his website, too...

Thank you!

Posted by
22 posts

Lived in South Florida for years....Lot's of Canadians come down. THEY DO NOT TIP...WHAT DO THEY DO IN EUROPE ? ASK FOR A DISCOUNT??

Posted by
11450 posts

Gee George, service must suck in Florida then, cause Canadains tip at home, the standard 15%-20%,, but only for GOOD service,, maybe theres no good service down there, maybe since tips are apparently a "must do" ,, to top up freakishly low wages that employers get away with paying the service staff in some States, maybe service is crap as they KNOW you are going to tip them anyways. .I have read that Americans will tip even for poor service,, LOL that is funny.

Posted by
10251 posts

I guess Canadians only tip Canadians because I remember one Canadian on this board who said she doesn't tip in Paris because a service charge in included even though she knows the wait staff doesn't get that. LOL

I ran a restaurant in South Florida many years ago and had lots of vacationing Canadians come in . They raved to me about the food and service, and returned sometimes 2-3 times a week. And each time, the waitress would complain about how little they would leave as a tip.

Perhaps they're just cheap once they leave their country. LOL

(One caveat, I do have Canadian friends who are not cheap so this isn't a general response, just about some who complain about the US.)

Posted by
11450 posts

Frank,I know you are not talking about me ,, since I have NEVER said I don't tip(ever) in Paris, and I have NEVER said that I know the serving staff don't get the service included amount,( I do NOT know that, how do you KNOW that?) Find that post Frank, if you are talking about me,, I will apoligize if you find a post that says I don't tip and , I just don't AMERICAN tip..

I have said I tip the way they do in Paris, just change, or rounding up.. as when in Rome,, but when in America( love Hawaii, going in April again) I always tip American style, ( although I do not tip more then 20 % ever, as that is just plain extravagant, I stick to 15% which I consider the standard for good service, 20% is for exceptional)I also have posted, ( here or perhaps on other boards) that I tip hotel maids IF I ask for extra service, and I leave the tip on a note which always says " Merci Madame" .. since money isn't everything if you don't display manners.

Maintain service must be poor in Florida, as so far they the only whining about tipping and Canadian comes from Florida, never hear about it on the Hawaiian travel forums I go on. Course they are the NICEST people in Hawaii, really like them, service there is so good, bit slow ( hey its a " no hurry" type place, but they are just truly charming (mostly) people.

Posted by
668 posts

The Canadian tipping thing:

I went to college in a border town (Bellingham) and worked as a server. The Canadians, almost to a person, did not tip. I had one Canadian once who left a 10% tip, and I was pretty sure it was an accident. (And I was a very good server- cheerful, accurate, and fast!) All the other servers had the same experience. I know a lot of lovely Canadians, but the people we had come through were generally cheap and rude. I kind-of attributed it to a bargain hunting in the US mentality, as most were down for cheaper shopping and many would park their RVs behind KMart to avoid paying for an RV park. I guess maybe tipping was another way to save money. (PS- the local Americans were only marginally better.)

And sorry, I don't know about Paris tipping! ; )

Posted by
11450 posts

Well I guess I should stop tipping then,, since according to some Canadians don't tip,, ha, funny since I EARNED tips in Canada,, maybe I was just worth it.. LOL

Posted by
191 posts

I guess you all have had some bad experiences with Canadians, which is too bad. The standard here for restaurants is at least 15%...I will round to something lower (although never less than 10%) if the service was exceptionally bad and more if the service was very good. For cabs, I'll round up a few bucks, but that's about it.

What we don't really do though, is tip much outside restaurants...I know that when unloading a car outside a hotel in the US, the porter will expect a tip and I generally try to have $1 bills on hand for that kind of thing, but leaving tips in hotel rooms etc is a lot less common.

But, the restaurant standard is at least 15%

Posted by
8293 posts

I'm astonished to hear that Canadians do not tip ! My friends and I always tip well and we have lunches out often. Where do these Canadians come from, the non-tippers? Are they perhaps from small towns where you don't tip at the local diner? Curious.

Posted by
668 posts

Well, the Canadians were mostly from BC, as we were about an hour south of Vancouver. I have been with Canadian friends that tipped, and I have tipped when I was in BC. Again, I was a GOOD server, as were a few of my coworkers (some were bad but this happened to all of us), and this was a common experience. They also weren't particularly friendly, either. I don't dislike Canadians or understand why, but my experience (and that of other servers) with Canadians while serving in a border town was that they didn't tip. I am glad that you are better representatives of your countrymen and not perpetuating the Ugly Canadian stereotype. ; )

Posted by
10251 posts

So, what we have surmised is that it's people from British Columbia who don't tip--except in their own province. I guess they feel sorry for their fellow British Columbians who have to work for tips. LOL

Posted by
11450 posts

Frank,, I worked for tips, and got them too, guess its just the bad service they recievced in the States.

BTW Frank, IF you owned a restaurant in Florida then you would KNOW that most tourists there are from EASTERN Canada ,, which would blow your silly comment about British Columbians aside. You really just like to be annoying I think.

Also, still waiting Frank.

I am sure you could find those posts by that "Canadian" who says she doesn't tip,,,,

Posted by
10251 posts

Or maybe the Canadians you served knew they would only get bad service so they felt pity for you and tipped. LOL LOL LOL

It's amazing...you can insult others, put people down, be really opinonated, yet by putting LOL after it, it's okay.

But if someone does it back, you get all defensive.

To the rest of the Canadians on this board, many of whom I've had very nice private conversations with, I meant no disrespect and hope I didn't ruffle anyone's feathers. If I did, I apologize. I'm sure you don't like the idea of a non-Canadian saying something bad about your country or countrymen, just as I don't like a non-American saying bad things about mine.

Now, Pat, if you still have a problem, I suggest you take it to private messaging so we don't bother the good people on this board.

How about we all get back to helping each other be better travelers.