Let’s talk about tipping in France.
As a tourist, it’s not always easy to navigate the cultural norms of what to do and not to do. Here we’re talking about tipping in France and you’ll learn that it’s not the same as in the USA. Whenever we head to the U.S. on vacation, the American tipping culture becomes apparent from the moment we step off the plane. Taxi drivers, waiters, bellhops and more all get their share and it’s something normal for me since I grew up there, but not for Tom, since tipping in France is very different. Do you tip at restaurants in France? Do you tip in Paris and in general? And if so, how much?
Tipping in France 2021
When friends and family come to visit, they always ask about tipping in France. For Americans, who have grown up with tipping pretty much anyone who lends a hand/provides a service, it can feel weird to NOT leave a little something when out to eat, at the salon, etc. Tipping isn’t optional in the US and is seen as an obligatory step in getting service, so what is tipping in Paris like?
Generally speaking, do you tip in France? Not exactly. But hold on, it’s not that simple.
If you’re going to France on vacation and want to know about France tipping, how much to tip in France, and when you should tip in France, here’s what you need to know:
Tipping in France 2021
First, let’s take into consideration that in the U.S. waiters and many others in service professions depend on tips to earn a livable wage. Servers are often not full-time employees with benefits and they paid next to nothing in the U.S. Part of their job is to provide friendly and attentive service to hungry customers. And why not? If they want a good tip, providing an excellent experience for the customer is key to earning a living. After having lived in France for a while now, the service at US restaurants almost seems over the top with them checking on you, refilling your glass, and clearing the plates the moment we finish the last morsel.
In France, waiters are paid a livable wage with benefits and do not depend on tips, nor do they go out of their way to give customers the same service we’ve come to expect in the USA. Being a waiter in France is often thought of as a profession and not something you do for six months as a student for extra pocket money. That’s not to say they won’t provide good service. It’s just that waiters in France are not trying to serve you in a certain way in the hopes of earning a big tip.
Generally, French waiters aren’t going to tell you their name and check on you multiple times throughout the meal and keep refilling your water. They do their job appropriately — what’s normal for French culture — and get paid for it. It’s not a well-paid job or one that will make someone rich, but it’s a job and waiters have a work contract and are compensated via a salary. You can leave a small tip as a gesture of appreciation for great service. More on that below.
Tipping in France restaurants
Do you tip in Paris restaurants or anywhere in France? The short answer is no. Well, not to the extent that you would in the USA anyway. But it’s completely at your discretion and no one is going to turn down a tip for a job well done. Keep in mind that the service and tax are both included in the price you see on the menu (indicated by the words service compris, and it’s 15%). It generally doesn’t go directly to the waitstaff though.
Leaving a few euros for a particularly great meal/great service is always appreciated but never expected. If you decide to tip, just leave the coins in the plastic tray with the receipt on the table.
It’s perfectly fine to round a bill up if you had good service like leaving 40 if the bill was 37. You can go a little higher at a particularly fancy restaurant where you had a wonderful meal. But it would be unusual to leave a 20%, USA-style tip at a mediocre casual restaurant, so don’t do that unless you really feel compelled for some reason.
It’s always appreciated to round a bill up or leave 5 or 10% of the total, especially at a gastronomic restaurant such as those with Michelin stars. But 20% would be outside of French norms.
Tourists in France often don’t know the tipping rules in France and end up leaving an “American-style tip” much to the servers’ delight. But French people would rarely, if ever, leave a 20% tip. If you’re looking to fit in while you’re in France, remember that a tip in France is never compulsory and definitely not 20%.
For a simple coffee or drinks at a cafe, feel free to round the bill up to the nearest euro. So a bill of 4.20 can be rounded up to 5 euros. French people do round up for coffee and drinks and this is part of France tipping culture, so feel free to do the same for a small check at a casual place like a cafe.
What you need to know about dining at restaurants in France (and dos and don’ts) >>
On the other hand, don’t feel like you’re a cheapskate if you only pay the total on your bill, especially at a casual restaurant. Many French people pay the bill by walking up to the register, paying with their card, and that’s it. Waiters don’t generally bring the bill unless you ask, and if it’s busy, it’s easier to just get up and walk to the register to pay.
After doing so, French people don’t run back to the table to leave cash or add a gratuity to their card. In most restaurants (outside of touristy areas), there’s no line item on the credit card receipt to add a tip.
Do you tip in Paris? Servers in Paris are more accustomed to receiving tips from foreign tourists who don’t know the tipping in France norms, but again, that doesn’t mean it’s something you should do. Some scammy servers might even tell you to leave a tip, banking on the fact that tourists aren’t familiar with French culture but you know better!
If your bill is an even 40 euros and you only have 40 on you, it’s fine. Really, whereas it would be seen as stiffing the waiter in the USA. As a foreigner, not tipping in France may feel weird, so always do what you’re comfortable with, but as I mentioned, many French people don’t leave much of a tip beyond a couple of euros for a delicious meal. It’s not offensive to leave without tipping.
This stands in sharp contrast to the tipping culture in the US. In the US, even if service was sub-par, if you were served an edible meal, it’s customary to leave 20% for the server. In France, 20% would be quite unusual unless you were at a really nice restaurant and someone went way above and beyond. A few euros extra is already generous, so stick to 5-10%.
Again, tipping at a restaurant in France is NOT expected at all and many French people never leave anything and that’s totally OK. Your call. You’re not stiffing the waiter if you only pay the amount on the receipt.
Another exception would be at a high-end restaurant or a place that went above and beyond for you and your party. Maybe they made special accommodations for you last minute or went out of their way to accommodate a food allergy. Again, the tip is at your discretion.
Tom’s note: When paying by card, many times you just get up and walk to the register to pay because it might be a little bit of a wait to have the waiter come to you, especially if it’s busy. You may see a tip bowl or jar there up at the front and you can leave a few coins to be shared among the waitstaff. At the chain La Boucherie, they have a tip bowl in a shape of a cow if I remember correctly, and when a customer pays his check and puts coins in the cow, it’s a big deal. The waiter rings a bell and all the waiters in the room say out loud, “Personnel ! MERCI !”
So keep an eye out for a tip bowl if you’d like to leave a few coins on the way out. That type of tipping in France is quite common.
Do you tip in France… for a haircut?
When getting a haircut, again, it’s customary to just pay for the cost of the service. There’s no need to leave anything additional unless you are particularly pleased with the service. A few euros is fine. I left a tip the first time I got my haircut in France and the stylist was very surprised. Appreciative but surprised. Almost shocked. It’s definitely not the norm to leave a tip for a haircut (definitely not 15-20%). Remember, stylists do not depend on tips to live.
*** Also, watch out for setting a precedent with service providers you see regularly. If you leave a tip the first time you see a new hair stylist, he/she is going to expect it every time. ***
Do you tip in France… the appliance delivery people?
No tip necessary. But if you had a particularly bulky item and they were extra helpful, a few euros is a generous gesture if you feel like it. When I had an appliance delivered recently, the only delivery man sent to delivery a bulky piece of equipment spent 20 minutes with me getting it out of the truck and into my garage. I tried to give him 10 euros as a thank you and he told me multiple times he is not allowed to receive tips despite my urging.
Tipping in France… housekeeping?
The majority of French people do not leave a daily tip for housekeeping services at hotels in France. That said, it’s backbreaking, thankless work and I always leave a couple of euros per day with a note at hotels of all star levels in France. This is not the norm among the French, but to me, I feel like it’s the right thing to do and no one is going to turn down the tip.
Tipping in France… for takeout delivery?
No tip necessary. But if you had a complicated order or they’re on a scooter and it’s pouring rain, rounding up to the nearest euro or leaving an extra euro or two will make their night. Again, it’s not expected but on delivery apps, I always leave a couple of euros.
So that’s my opinion about tipping in France and do you tip in Paris, but if you want to know more, let me know and I’ll get the scoop from Tom (if you’re new around these parts, Tom is my French husband who has his own column on my blog called Ask Tom Tuesdays where he answers your questions).
So to recap: France does not have a tip-centric culture to the same extent that we do in the US. You’ll find French people tipping less often and a much lesser amount. The French are paid a livable wage, so leaving a hefty tip in most cases is not necessary at all. It’s completely at your discretion.
If you do leave a tip when out to eat at a regular restaurant or to say thanks for a job well done, a few euros is a generous gesture and a 20% tip would be unusual. Of course it would be accepted, though. Use your best judgment and do what feels right for you and the situation.
So French readers out there, what’s your take on tipping in France?? Curious to hear your thoughts. Do you tip in France?
For even more travel tips, check out my eGuide titled “75 Beginner France travel tips for a Standout trip” to be more prepared and in the know about all things French!
For more info on French culture topics, click over to this giant French culture roundup post!
Photo credit: hitsnooze / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
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Maggie Freeman says
I found this post very useful. We’re buying a house in France in a couple of weeks. I’ve always tipped in restaurants…thought it was the norm. Thanks for the info.
Well, it’s definitely not the norm although an extra euro or two (or rounding up) isn’t a problem at all. You’ve been leaving a tip of 15-20%? The servers must love you! 😉 Glad you found the post useful. Good luck with your house!
My (French) husband who’s not a cheap person almost never tips, so I follow his lead. Like you I round up a bit if it makes sense (but it always feels weird in a taxi to give them 10c when that’s the difference, but they never expect anything!).
For appliance repairmen/deliverymen/plumbers/etc, one thing I learned from my husband is to always offer them a coffee first thing — 90% of the time they’ll accept. I did give 20€ once to one to make something bulky “disappear” — that was definitely my American efficiency side 🙂
Thanks for the tip on the hair salon — I’m always super confused. People seem to tip my colorist by putting a bill into his tool bag at his station, but I don’t see them tip my stylist, who’s the owner.
Thanks for your input, Lynn! Glad to know you don’t tip here either although it feels weird NOT leaving anything. About tipping the owner, I always learned (even in the US) that you usually don’t tip the owner but can give something around the holidays. Guess that holds true in France too. Who the heck knows on that one
I totally agree on the coffee : always offer coffee to someone working in your house, I would say it’s more important than tipping. And they usually accept. I would say tipping in France is showing you really appreciated the service.
Excellent tip, thank you! No one I know would turn down coffee 😉
Todd V says
I always followed the lead of my colleagues in France and so I don’t think I ever tipped.
Since you mention Ask Tom Tuesdays, its been awhile since he has posted and I think his posts are great as well. Any on the horizon?
No one has sent in any questions for him recently, Todd! Feel free to email anything that’s on your mind. I’m sure he’d love to write a new post 😉
I don’t tip in Paris. It’s not what we’re used to in France. It’s why we are so awkward with this question when we’re travelling to the US. My boyfriend is often pissed off when he is always reminded to leave a tip (example, we were visiting the Everglades with an airboat, there was two signs about the tip, and the guy mentionned it two or three times…)…he has the feeling that everything is done on that purpose…
I’m french, and I’ve absolutely never tipped. Even in Paris – especially in Paris – where people are not friendly at all, and prices high. The first time in my life I’ve heard about tips was a few years ago, preparing my first trip to USA. How complicated it seemed to me, that tips thing !!! And for sure I’ve sometimes forgot to tip. American people should have though french people are cheap and rude … no … just lost in american customs ! Here you talk about tips for haircuts, I’ve never though about it ! Seems really weird to me 😉
I’ve lived in Brest and Nice. In Brest I never even thought of tipping (as we don’t tip in Denmark either), but when I arrived in Nice I was told that tipping was important and not to leave a tip would be the same as telling the waiter/waitress you didn’t like the service.
Oh wow, never heard that about Nice. I wonder if that was advice to tourists or if those native to Nice tip? I’ve never heard of anywhere in France where tipping was the norm. Very interesting!
Just wanted to let you know that your article about tipping in France doesn’t seem very accurate, you make it sound like tipping is more of a custom rather than an act of respect and acknowledgement. Shouldn’t you tip depending on the level of appreciation of the service rather than on what they’re used to. Especially since French waiters don’t expect tips from the French but they do expect them from other nationalities since why would you stop tipping all of a sudden just because you’ve crossed a border ? Do you not appreciate the service as much ? nd that would be even more disrespectful since a waiter would then think he had given awful service to not receive what the clients would usually leave in their restaurants back home.
Always tip unless awful circumstances but tip depending on the level of appreciation, it’s ever so rewarding to feel appreciated by customers…
Sorry you don’t feel my article is accurate but I consulted with several French people to make sure it was on point. I understand feeling appreciated by customers but if an American in France doesn’t tip 20% (because French people don’t tip 20%), it has nothing to do with appreciation. It has to do with cultural norms. Likewise if a French visitor in the US did what they did at home (no tip), the waiter would probably be a tad pissed off. When abroad, I think you need to respect the culture of where you are. Another point is that French waiters are paid a livable wage for their work whereas in the US they are not, so the tipping culture is very different for that reason. It would be silly to pay a 20% tip in France (what we do in the US) on top of the bill. If the service is appreciated in a restaurant in France it’s customary to leave a small token of appreciation, not 20%. Thank you for sharing your point of view.
You do not understand culture difference. Period.
I find it pretty offensive that you insinuate the unfortunate accident of my birth should follow and haunt me for the rest of my life, as if I’m so rich I can afford a 20% tax on every meal. Humor me this, what do I do after 5 years in China, where they will return the tip money to you because they assume you forgot your money – I now go to France – having not tipped in 5 years – and I’m expected to pay now again the American standard? (which is actually 25% by now in 2020 by the way)? Yes – I will deeply resent the people like you until the day I die, because you try to force something on me when I had no control over where I was born. By the way this example is real as I’ve spent more than 5 years in China
Kirth Gersen says
I think you miss it. In France service is included in the price. That’s by law. Meaning you don’t have the choice and pay for it, 15%, even if you are dissatisfied. On the other hand, If you are really satisfied with the service you can let few euros. Never let more than 10€ myself in a restaurant, and that’s for a top end restaurant.
Jennifer (Dr. J) says
Thanks for demystifying the tipping situation. Every place is different and it can be difficult to find definitive info. #AllAboutFrance
I had an experience once whereby I left a tip and it was returned to me. The waiter was offended that I had done so, saying that he was paid a good wage for his professional services. Obviously this is rare… Great article!
Oh wow, that wasn’t in Paris, right? I feel like in touristy places, the waiters are used to foreigners who tip out of habit and would happily keep the cash. I bet you were shocked!
Girl Gone Gallic says
I only tip in France when the experience has been exceptional, but I will tip a few (as in two or three) euros. Although the tips are included, the actual wait staff never sees it – they just get their flat low hourly wage. Something to think about…
Yup I try to adhere to the “when in Rome” but I do round bills up and leave an extra couple of euros for a decent meal. It feels wrong as an American to leave nothing!
I only ate at one proper restaurant while I was in Paris and the waiter was so lovely and helpful, well beyond what was expected of him, so I gave him a big tip – enough for a cup of posh coffee at Cafe de Flore! 🙂
It still feels weird to me to not tip when I’m in Paris. I have a friend that lives in Toulouse that always visits me when I’m in Paris and she has been known to pick up my tips and give it back to me reminding me tips aren’t needed!
I know what you mean and it’s second nature to leave something on the table!
We often tip extra if it has been a group meal (10 and over), due to the extra pressure. I find the tipping culture in the US quite aggressive though and can be stressful for visitors to get right – wish people were just paid a living wage to start with – all clear and up front!
Phoebe @ Lou Messugo says
The only time I find it confusing is at the hair salon as I notice quite a lot of people slipping a little extra into their stylist’s hand but then I know it’s not really the norm. I’m not from a tipping culture in general and find the whole thing stressful (in salons) (and horribly stressful n general in USA!!!) Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance
Becks from Access Riviera says
I often get asked by visiting friends and relatives what the rules about tipping are. I’ll gladly leave a few coins for great service, and have left good tips for exceptional service. I also tip the pizza guys who come on scooters and delivery men as we live on the 3rd floor with no elevator.
Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault says
I have got so used to not tipping in France that I have to remember that in the UK it is expected! #AllAboutFrance
I’m British, you may tip in high class restaurants, but not in ‘greasy spoons’ pubs etc. although in a pub you could by the barman a drink. BTW ‘Greasy Spoons’ are good for plainly cooked filling meals at a good price. Don’t be put off by the name.
LOL I actually thought greasy spoon was a typical American term (as a Midwest native)… so it was very interesting that you went on to explain the term! I guess it is common in both countries
Shawn Michaels says
I whenever eat out always tip the waiter. Its my habit. Any how, Love your post. You have shared such a great information for us. Thanks.
Do NOT tip. In france, one does not tip. americans and brits please do not tip. The fees/taxes are already included. Also, an old scam in paris is to include a tip IN ADDITION to the taxes/prix service compris–this is fraud. Please triple check all parisian restaurant bills for fraud/scams. City of hustlers.
I am french and live in corsica i don’t know the uses in Paris and even in the mainland but here i almost always tip at restaurant or pub. Like you said, of course it is never expected but it is natural to do when it was a good time.
As I have doubts about my english i also add it in french.
Je suis français et j’habite en corse. Je ne connais pas les usage a Paris ni vraiment sur le continent, mais ici il est d’usage de laisser un pourboire, souvent en laissant la monnaie. Comme vous le dites, ce n’est effectivement jamais attendu et il ne vous sera jamais reproché de ne rien laisser mais ca reste apprecié.
Cynthia Greer says
This is a very good article for someone like me !
If I hadn’t read this and I were in France, yes I would tip !
It’s a reflex with me because here in America it’s expected.
Before I started doing my own hair, the hairdresser always asked me if I would like to leave something !
Customs and cultures are so interesting to me !
Some time ago, I hired a Mexican man to do some landscaping.
I took a cup of coffee and cake outside and offered it to him.
One day later I found the coffee and uneaten cake safely tucked in my bushes. !
Have a beautiful Day !
Jo-Anne the crazy lady says
You don’t tip here in Australia either as people here earn enough to live on generally speaking as well
Nadine Maffre says
As a kiwi (no one tips in NZ!), I find tipping such a minefield! I was totally of the mindset that no-one tipped here in France until my French tutor told me that it’s rude not to leave at least 10%! Maybe she was rooting for a tip 😉 I still find it confusing, but normally do what you say – leave a few coins or round up the bill.
I generally don’t tip at restaurants or cafés. I try to remember to tip, because my dad always does, but most of the times I forget, and because I pay with my credit card most of the times, I don’t have coins in my purse to tip with.
I always tip at the hairdresser’s. When I was a kid I was very proud when, at the end of the haircut, my mom would give me 2 euros to give to the hairdresser. I still do that. Most hairdressers aren’t surprised by my tipping. They’re very appreciative though, so I guess not every one tips them.
I don’t tip delivery guys, but I guess delivery isn’t as widespread here as in the US.
It’s slightly off topic but we have firefighters, mailmen and the guys who take the trash away who come door to door around Christmas to ask for a little money. They generally give you a calendar (with pictures of fire operations, or kittens haha) and you tip them whatever you want. This generally calls for more money than a typical tip, I’d say between 5 – 10 euros to show you appreciate their service all year round.
rohit aggarwal says
thanks for the information
Hi my dear,
You are giving a very good advice to people, but i have few questions! have you worked in a restaurant? And do you know that every restaurant give a livable salary? And do you know how many employers don’t pay legally to their employees? And are you sure about every employer that they give them the contract? And do you know how much server’s makes in tips? And do you think everyone working in a restaurant is French? And do you know how many have any other liabilities to pay off or save for future apart from just surviving and paying bills? And do know if there is racism or not?
Well I have answers to all above questions, but I wanna hear yours!
P.S. When its comes to tips aka pourboire, I don’t think it’s in the culture of France, although it’s not in my indian culture too, but I learned various lessons while working in different restaurants, and I have noticed when sometimes I got few tips and what difference it made in my life, and now I am not the same person anymore. I always try to give the best services to my clients, but it’s only the people from English speaking countries who gave me the generous tips, from French people forget it. I just wanna tell you don’t tell people to not be generous to their server, let’s leave this on people to decide whether a server deserves a tips or not, whether his/her services were nice or not!
P.P.S You said that “I repeat the tips are included in bill” , so are you for real sure those 15% included in bill, is for the server and they get it?
Wow you sure know how to be arbitrary & the king of busybodies!
– have you worked in a restaurant?
-And do you know that every restaurant give a livable salary?
A worker’s poor decisions in accepting jobs they don’t want (for whatever reason, not just wage but maybe not enough vacation) are something I’m supposed to speculate about? Really?
-And do you know how many employers don’t pay legally to their employees?
And do you know how many children are sold into human traffiking? Did you see a child on the street today? Did you question his caretaker to make sure they were legitimately father/mother + child or nanny+child?
-And are you sure about every employer that they give them the contract?
And what about the waiter in the restaurant I had lunch at? Did he realize that I’m not happy with the number of holidays in my contract?
-And do you know how much server’s makes in tips?
I’m not going to share my salary with the waiter, why would he share his with me? Offensive much?
-And do you think everyone working in a restaurant is French?
So now I’m supposed to tell people what country to immigrate to? Maybe I should ask the waiter’s opinion about whether I should have traveled to Portugal instead of France and follow whatever his opinion about my life is too?
thanks for share such content
I attempt to make sure to tip, on the grounds that my father consistently does, yet the greater part of the occasions I fail to remember, and in light of the fact that I pay with my Mastercard the vast majority of the occasions, I don’t have coins in my satchel to tip with.
every country not every person has its own decision for tipping buts its good to don’t do it
Adriana Alyse says
I struggle to get really to tip, on the parks that my Boy Friend constantly work out, but the bigger role of the circumstances I go to recall, and in bright of the reality that I give along with my PayPal card the huge benefit of the times, I don’t need cash in my shoulder bag to tip with.
Nazro Gayle says
Just made this and it was delicious! Thank you for the recipe. I’ll be sure to try your other recipes in future, keep up the good work
JB C says
Your article is not accurate, i understand that for american it’s not easy to understand how the tip in restaurant is in france.
The 15% service include, is not the tip, but the only one salary that is share between all restaurant staff, more for the managers, less for the waiter, it’s not directly for the waiter.
Tipping the waiter is culturaly very welcome in France especialy in big town, less in country side, young people often forgot to leave the tips, but be sure that no one want to be waiter in france without the tips, and hopefully french people leave tips . A good tip in france is between 2% to 10% of the bill, often it’s 5%.
If only ALL cultures would give people living wages, not leaving their livelihood to the arbitrary and capricious judgement of whether someone thought service was acceptable, exceptional, or mediocre. The number of “Karens” in the world may well exceed the total number of waitstaff, and the latter should not depend on the former for a living wage.
Really informative post. Thanks for sharing
You’re very welcome!
Jerry Wick says
Thank you for the recipe. I hope it will be tasty when I shall make it t home. I’ll be sure to try your other recipes in future, keep up the good work.
These are very helpful tips. I was there in france playing professional level basketball and it really helped during my stay there.
Yes, we get the pompiers’ annual calendar and would give them 20 euros. It’s widespread.
During COVID they could not visit door to door but left calendars in everyone’s mailboxes with a note inviting donations to be dropped off in a special container at the local supermarket.
Many of the pompiers are volunteers, particularly in rural areas, so the small mark of appreciation helps to provide small comforts for their staff rooms and a modest share in the cash.
I also give a thank you card with 20 euros to the post lady at Christmas.
For general tipping, I keep to topping up for drinks and snacks but perhaps a few euros after a good meal. It doesn’t seem to be expected in the rural area where I live but more so in the cities.