Your International Tipping Guide For France

Your International Tipping Guide For France

The Parisian cafes and bars are a mere slice of France’s cultural wealth. From the metropolitan Marseille and the French Riviera to Bordeaux and Nice, it’s little wonder why people flock to its every corner year on year. 

Once settled into your abode, whether that be Paris, Lyon, Lille or Corsica, it is time to head out. Exploring, dining out and journeying in any French city may leave you wondering about tipping. 

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Gratuity in France

Whether you are staying for a short city break, being whisked away on a romantic weekend or you are looking to take a month-long vacation, France is ideal. Like many European destinations, it is primed and ready for tourists. 

Hospitality in France is a big deal. Coq au vin may be one of the most famous foods in the world, but the service accompanying it will likely compete. 

Dining out in France is an experience like no other, but tipping at the end of your meal can seem tricky. To know when and how much you should tip in restaurants, cafes, bars, taxis and hotels, our guide is on hand to help. 

A Quick Guide

Tipping in Restaurants in France

No trip to France is complete without sampling the national cuisine. Soups, entrees, wine and the customary fromage all combine for a rich, delicious and memorable experience. 

France – like many of its European neighbours – does not have a tipping expectancy. 

The best way to tip in France is to consider the service. If you are impressed, try to leave somewhere in the region of 15-20% of your bill in tips. This is a sizeable enough contribution to make your enjoyment clear. If the service was not up to standard, your lack of tip will not be hounded. 

How much tip tip in cafes

Cafes are an integral part of the city and townscapes across France. While sipping on cafe au laits and munching on croissants, you will receive your bill in the same way as a restaurant. 

A little more informal, cafes and their staff are often busy serving a number of people at one time. Rounding up your bill after a morning spent at a café will leave your server with a bonus for their hard work. They are certain to be grateful for the gesture. 

Your Bill in France

Beware not to use hand signals when asking for the bill in France. It is considered rude to wave or beckon a server to the table for the bill. A simple ‘excusez moi’ will suffice to get their attention to ask for the bill. 

Just like in our Italian tipping guide – your bill explains everything. In France you will sometimes receive your bill as you are finishing or have just finished eating. Don’t worry, they are not trying to force you out, the restaurant may just be very busy! 

A service charge is sometimes added to the bill as ‘service compris’ and is usually 15%. This slice of money goes directly to the restaurant owner who is in turn able to pay the servers a salaried wage. If you feel the service deserves more, tipping on top of this will find the pocket of your servers directly. 

It is always worth carrying cash for your bill. While many restaurants and cafes are equipped with card machines, you may find it harder in smaller establishments. 

Tipping for taxi journeys in France

Travelling to Paris’ best destinations may be easy on the metro, but some areas of France demand taxi journeys.

It is important to agree a fee with your taxi driver before the ride. This ensures you are not paying over the top. As tipping is discretionary in France, there is no pressure to leave your taxi driver with a couple of extra euros. 

However, some taxi drivers will go the extra mile. If they carry your bags to the car or give you recommendations for restaurants near your hotel, you may feel they are deserving of a tip in addition to the fare. 

Tour guides and tipping in France

The staple of any city break is the tour. Hop on hop off buses, bike tours, walking tours and even wine tours are prevalent across France. 

Paid and free tours differ in terms of tipping. When do I tip my walking tour guide? How much do they want? 

Free walking tours in France are available in cities across the country. The tour guides are usually English speaking natives or people that have lived in the city for a while. They rely solely on their tips – and it should be noted beforehand that they don’t walk around with card machines, so bring cash.  

Many tour guides – and their websites – will give you an idea of how much their standard tip is. Go above or below depending how you feel the tour was, but also do not feel obliged should the guide not be up to standard. 

Should I tip my hotel staff?

Your hotel is the chance to rest and recharge your batteries. Its bar, restaurant and the various staff you meet during your stay give you plenty of chances to tip. 

Again, these opportunities are not obliged. You do not need to tip, but if the service deserves it go for it. If someone goes out of their way to help you, this may be cause for a tip. Housekeepers for longer stays may be deserving of a few euros as a tip.

Tipping when in France’s Atlantic and Pacific Ocean islands

Tipping in France is relatively simple – it’s all discretionary! However, some things do change slightly if you find yourself in one of France’s overseas territories. 

The culture in French Polynesia, for example, means that tipping is not an ordinary practice. The same can be said for French Guiana, Martinique, New Caledonia, Reunion Island and Wallis and Futuna. 

Guadeloupe and St Pierre and Miquelon are slightly different, however. 

In Guadeloupe, hotels and restaurants will often add a service charge. This is between 10-15%. Other than this, you will not be obliged to tip although French expat websites recommend leaving 10% on each bill to support the economies of these overseas territories. 

The latter is situated off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, and therefore most establishments will expect a tip – as is the way in North America. It is generally accepted to add 20% to your bills in restaurants, cafes and bars when in Canada – which is much like the United States tipping wise.

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