Tipping in France: what you need to know
Tipping is a common practice in many countries, but tipping habits and cultures vary worldwide. To avoid confusion — and any social faux pas — check out our guide to tipping in France.
5 min read
While tipping is a common practice in many countries, tipping habits and etiquette can vary drastically worldwide. The expected and appropriate amount to tip depends not only on individual situations, but also on cultural customs. So, to help you navigate French tipping etiquette and avoid making any faux pas, we’ve put together this guide to the intricacies of tipping in France.
Read on for the lowdown on tipping in France — and to make the most of your trip, don't forget to check out our travel guide to France. It’s packed with tips and tricks for finding the perfect French getaway.
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Is there tipping in France? What you need to know about French tipping culture
The practice of tipping in France isn’t as common or expected as in some other countries. French tipping culture is unique, and there are nuances that you’ll need to know about in order to avoid any potential faux pas.
The first thing to know: Tipping in France isn’t mandatory, but it's highly appreciated. But hang on! Before you close this article and walk out of the café without leaving un pourboire (a small gratuity), know that tipping in France is more complex than meets the eye.
Tipping in France: who to tip
In France, tipping isn’t typically expected in restaurants, taxis, and hotels, as the country's hospitality sector includes service charges in its pricing. Unlike in other countries, servers receive a decent monthly wage, paid holidays, and additional benefits. However, customers still have the option to express their appreciation for excellent service by leaving a gratuity. The gratuity amount can vary depending on the establishment and the quality of the service. To navigate tipping in France effectively during your travels, here are some general guidelines.
Tipping in restaurants and cafés
Whether it's a cozy café, the local bistro, or a Michelin-starred establishment, a service charge of 15 percent is automatically included by law in most French restaurants. You’ll see it listed on the menu or your check under “service compris” (service included). However, if you have an especially friendly and efficient waiter, you can leave a small gratuity (“un pourboire” in French). It’s a kind thing to do, but not obligatory.
When getting a coffee or an alcoholic drink, French etiquette suggests rounding the check up to the nearest euro, or leaving 20 to 50 centimes per drink. In casual cafés or restaurants, leaving one to two euros per person for the meal is generally appreciated. In fine dining establishments, where service is exceptionally attentive, it’s customary to leave a gratuity of 5-10 percent.
Tipping in hotels
In France, the custom is simple: If you're happy with the service, add a tip. It’s seen as a personal gesture and can vary based on how satisfied you are with the service. In hotels, although not obligatory, it's polite to show your appreciation with a gratuity for the staff in some situations, for example:
- Bellhops and hotel porters: If you need help carrying your bags, tip €1-2 per bag.
- Doormen: For valet services or help with hailing taxis, leave a €1 tip.
- Room service waiters: Add a few euros to compensate the staff for delivering your meals or helping you with other information.
- Concierge: If you had help making restaurant reservations or arranging other services, consider leaving a €5-20 tip.
For travelers on a budget, make sure to add some tip savings if you're planning to eat out frequently!
Tipping taxis in France
It’s common practice to tip taxi drivers in France. Although not mandatory, locals usually round up to the nearest euro or leave a gratuity of up to 5 percent. If the taxi driver helps you with your luggage, especially if you have large bags, it’s customary to tip €1-2 per bag.
For private car services, such as pre-booked airport transfers or full-day car tours, a 5-10 percent gratuity is typical.
Tipping tour guides and other tourist services
Tipping practices in certain situations can be a bit ambiguous in France. When you book a private tour, class, or excursion directly with a guide or instructor, you’re typically charged a flat fee and tipping isn’t expected.
However, if you book a tour guide or service through an online platform, it’s customary to leave a gratuity of 10-20 percent (if the experience was positive!). If you’re not sure, check the fine print on your booking confirmation — it might have some extra information about tips.
Non-tipping situations: tipping etiquette for tourists in France
The rule of thumb is: If you're happy, leave a tip. However, there are some situations in France where tipping isn’t expected:
- Self-service establishments: In self-service restaurants or cafes where you order and collect your food at the counter, it's fine not to leave a tip, since there isn’t any table service or wait staff.
- Small transactions or casual settings: For a small transaction, like buying a quick snack or a drink at a corner store, you don’t need to leave a tip.
- Retail stores: Tipping isn’t needed in retail stores or boutiques. The price of the item typically includes any service you might receive from the staff.
As tipping in France isn’t mandatory, it’s pretty much impossible to under-tip. If you're still in doubt, round up to the nearest euro, and you can't go wrong. For more European tipping tips, don't forget to check out our guide. Bon voyage!
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Is tipping normal in France?
Yes. Even though it isn’t mandatory, rounding up to the nearest euro or adding 5-20 percent is a sign of appreciation for the service and staff.
Will people in France take offense to tipping?
Nope! While tipping isn’t mandatory, it’s always welcome. Returning customers might get less attention, however, if they haven't tipped in the past.
Common misconceptions about tipping in France
One common misconception is that tipping is mandatory in France. In reality, while tipping is appreciated in certain situations, it’s not expected or obligatory in most circumstances. Another misconception is that you need to leave a large gratuity when tipping in France. In reality, modest tips are typically enough to show appreciation for good service. Leaving a few euros or rounding up when you pay your check is generally considered appropriate, and there’s no need to leave huge amounts.
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