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Tipping in France

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Even our most fiscally conservative companions leave something (around 5%) when service has been generous, and nothing when the meal and service have given us no reason to return.

OK, so, if I may bring up one of my scenarios which I don't think has been answered....

What about higher-end restos. Restaurants where one may spend from 200-800 euros for dinner. Are you saying if one spends 800 euros and experienced exceptional service one should leave a 40 euro tip (5%)? What would you (and this is an open question) leave on a 350 euro dinner, 500 euro dinner, 200 euro dinner.... is there a "tip cap"? Yes, I know it depends on if anything was comped and/or if the service was great.... assume the service was well above average and no comps.


Edited by CavePullum (log)

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OK, so, if I may bring up one of my scenarios which I don't think has been answered....

What about higher-end restos. Restaurants where one may spend from 200-800 euros for dinner. Are you saying if one spends 800 euros and experienced exceptional service one should leave a 40 euro tip (5%)? What would you (and this is an open question) leave on a 350 euro dinner, 500 euro dinner, 200 euro dinner.... is there a "tip cap"? Yes, I know it depends on if anything was comped and/or if the service was great.... assume the service was well above average and no comps.

I have never worked in a higher-end restaurant in Paris, so I can't say what waiters expect or don't, but I imagine they are paid at the higher end of the salary scale and not dependent on tips, so you don't need to feel obliged to leave anything. There are not rules really. If you feel the service was exceptional and the person went out of their way, then I think a tip is appreciated, but how much is up to you. Where I worked we split our tips with everyone, including the kitchen, so your waiter may only get a small fraction anyway.

I have to say that I strongly disagree that waiters are offended when they recieve a tip, not in France in any case. I can't speak for the customs of other countries, however I know that my colleagues and I always appreciated tips, although we did not expect them either.

And I have plenty of French friends who tip and often received tips from French customers, so I don't agree that the French don't tip.

I have a French friend who is a waiter and will try to ask him his thoughts on all this.

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In the top places, I'm sure they are disappointed when people don't express their (financial) appreciation- but are too polite and well-mannered to show it.

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I know, this is the forum for france - but Iam from germany and I don't think that tipping habits are so different...so here's my 2 cents:

Yes, tipping definitely *is* expected (my wife worked as a waitress for years...). To give less than 50 cents (for any check of 3 euros or more) is regarded as an insult. With higher checks the minimum is 5%. The max would be 10% (ironically, in top-notch places it rather goes towards 5%). But if you have a check of 4,50 you give 5, of course, even though it is a tad more than 10%.

But there are always cases when a customer or a group are so happy with his/her/their waiter/waitress that they give far more, just to appreciate how great they were treated.

Of course nobody will treat you badly, if you do not tip. But nevertheless you are regarded as cheap.

In italy, on the other hand, tipping is very uncommon.

And, by the way, americans and japanese are regarded as the worst tippers (in germany at least).

But even though I prefer the "european way" that waiters don't have make a living from the tips, I always found the attitude of american waiters far better than in europe - mostly they were attentive and extremely friendly. Probably because they *need* a good tip...

best

kai


Edited by kai-m (log)

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And, by the way, americans and japanese are regarded as the worst tippers (in germany at least).

What?! How can that be?

Also you say that Germany and France are the same, but Italy is different? How come?

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@pennylane: I think that is because many americans hear or read somewhere (in their travel guides?) that service in german/european restaurants is "included" - that's probably why they don't tip or don't tip well.

But as I said: tipping is not as "obligatory" as in the US (which I think is good), but most people just do it anyway, ironically even if the service was not good - which is stupid, of course. On the other hand, my experience is that you will hardly get the same level of hyper-friendliness in europe as in the US, anyway...

And it is only my personal impression/experience that france and germany are the same when it comes to tipping - others might disagree.

Italy is different, as I was told by my italian brother-in-law, because italians just don't tip (at least not at home). That's why italian waiters, as he said, love german/foreign customers - because the almost always tip...


Edited by kai-m (log)

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"And, by the way, americans and japanese are regarded as the worst tippers (in germany at least)."

Perhaps that's because - even after reading this thread - we still don't have a clue what's expected of us!

In the United States - it is easy. Service is almost never included. So tips are expected. When service is included (as it is in a place like my golf club - there are lots of visitors from overseas and an 18% service charge is added to all bills) - tips are not expected.

In Japan - there is no tipping period. To anyone for anything. It is a very simple and easy way of doing things.

In Europe - service is "compris" - included - except when it isn't :wacko: . That's what most people seem to be saying here.

So give me one hard and fast rule we can follow in France so we will be doing what is expected of us when we receive reasonable service - whether we're talking about a cup of coffee and a croissant or dinner at a 3 star Michelin restaurant. Robyn

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So give me one hard and fast rule we can follow in France so we will be doing what is expected of us when we receive reasonable service - whether we're talking about a cup of coffee and a croissant or dinner at a 3 star Michelin restaurant.  Robyn

Ok. here's the hard and fast rule: Being France, there is no hard and fast rule, we're Mediterranean. The service is compris; and if one likes the way one is treated and wants to return, one tips 5% more. If one is an ex-waitperson like my charming wife Colette or Phyllis/Felice, one always tips as a form of reverse professional courtesy. And if one is a famous food critic/writer one not only doesn't tip, one expects the house to honor your presence. Coda: under 2 Euros and over 200 Euros, all bets are off.

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People in Paris are about as Mediterranean as people in Oslo IMO.

What is the normal "compris" amount these days? 15% - 18% - more?

Is it stated on the bill or the menu?

If we round up to 20% - which is our normal tip these days in the US regardless of how much we're spending - unless the service is bad - will that work? We usually do the same with liquor/wine too (note that I don't drink wine - my husband usually orders wine by the glass - and even when he orders bottles - they aren't "big" bottles").

If we "round up" to 20% - should we do it in cash? Or just put it on the credit card?

As long as we're talking about tipping - how about the other tips if anyone knows? Bellmen who handles your baggage - the fellow at the hotel who gets the cab for you - the concierge desk? Norm in the US at a nice hotel - and we are staying at a nice hotel - the George V - is $10 for the bellman - a dollar or two for the cab (depending on how hard it is to get a cab - more if it's impossible to get a cab and we get one quickly) - and nothing for the concierge unless he/she does something extraordinary. If we just tip the same amount of Euros - will we be ok? What about cab drivers? We usually tip 20% in the US. Any guidance in the form of hard and fast rules would be appreciated (when you're half dead on your feet with jet lag - you don't want to have to think about these things). Robyn

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From my experience, if you tip as if you were in New York, in euros and in cash, figuring that the first 15% is included at all restaurants and cafes, everyone will be more than happy. Except cab drivers, who will be happy with 10%.

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A delegation of Paris cab drivers may be waiting for me at the door with tar, feathers and ropes as I write this, but I have clearly noticed that the adoption of the euro — which has allowed most prices to rise dramatically — has induced a definite change in the attitude of cab drivers. Now they no longer expect tips and, when you do round it up by, say, telling them to keep the whole thing when the fare is 9.50 and you hand them a 10-euro bill, most of them thank you warmly. And when you do not tip at all, they don't mind.

Though I realize it's nice to get a tip when as a waiter you've worked very hard, I am not an enthusiast of the concept of tipping. France is definitely not America, tipping is never mandatory and is only an expression of how satisfied you were. And it should be moderate. I would hate to contribute to a practice which, in the long run, could lead some employers to situations of abuse. I only tip at restaurants and in some taxis when the driver has been cool and showed intelligence in choosing his itinerary.

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Never on a credit card. Anything left should be in cash on the table.

We stay in the same hotel year after year, and tip one desk man (20€) every stay. For this, he makes phone calls (each of which would cost us .50€ were it made from our room), reservations, shuttle reservations, calls out of town hotels and restaurants, has 'left luggage' brought to our room on our return from out of town trips, etc. We tip other desk personnel perhaps every other or third trip for same but less frequent services. We give the housekeeper 2€ every morning when she brings breakfast to our room, and leave 2€ every day for the roomcleaner. This is in a small, intimate 2star hotel where we are assured of our favorite room and will always, unless the hotel is full booked, find it empty and waiting for us when we arrive at 8am from an early flight.

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A delegation of Paris cab drivers may be waiting for me at the door with tar, feathers and ropes as I write this, but I have clearly noticed that the adoption of the euro — which has allowed most prices to rise dramatically — has induced a definite change in the attitude of cab drivers. Now they no longer expect tips and, when you do round it up by, say, telling them to keep the whole thing when the fare is 9.50 and you hand them a 10-euro bill, most of them thank you warmly. And when you do not tip at all, they don't mind.

Though I realize it's nice to get a tip when as a waiter you've worked very hard, I am not an enthusiast of the concept of tipping. France is definitely not America, tipping is never mandatory and is only an expression of how satisfied you were. And it should be moderate. I would hate to contribute to a practice which, in the long run, could lead some employers to situations of abuse. I only tip at restaurants and in some taxis when the driver has been cool and showed intelligence in choosing his itinerary.

I have to agree. As an American, I've had a few instances where waiters haven't brought me the change from the check. And when I've inquired--"Oh? We thought it was for the tip, monsieur."

In that case, they get nothing. I don't think they'd pull that with a French person.

I've gotten over the "I have to tip" mentality, since I don't want people to automatically expect tips from Americans. And I also don't want to be responsible for a cultural shift.

(Well, any more than I already am...)

When I've tipped in cabs, they are hyper-thankful, which is nice. I'm happy to tip in restaurants when merited & I usually do, especially since I know wages are low in Paris and it's an expensive place to live. But for me, it's always as a gesture of thanks, not something I do because I'm expected to.

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People in Paris are about as Mediterranean as people in Oslo IMO.

What is the normal "compris" amount these days?  15% - 18% - more?

Is it stated on the bill or the menu?

I wouldn't worry so much.

Most servers in France are now paid a salary, so you don't need to worry about the % of the "service compris" , that goes to the owner to pay all salaries. Waiters do not depend on tips here, they are paid a salary like every other job (see average salaries in my post above), so you don't need to feel obliged to leave anything. However, if you really appreciated the service, then you can leave a small amount in appreciation. If the waiter just did his job, he served you, then leave nothing and don't worry about it.

When I am happy with the service, I normally leave 1-2 euros per person, but there are certainly times when I leave nothing.

I normally leave 50 centimes for my coffee but if you leave nothing or 10 no one will care.

And also I agree with Ptipois and David, that some owners may see the fact that people leave tips as reason to keep salaries low. If people did not tip at all, owners might be obliged to pay more.

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I have to agree. As an American, I've had a few instances where waiters haven't brought me the change from the check. And when I've inquired--"Oh? We thought it was for the tip, monsieur."

In that case, they get nothing. I don't think they'd pull that with a French person.

I can confirm that, David. They never do.

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It's common to leave some coins, or a few euros, for a low- or mid-priced meal in France if the service is good, but what does one do in a 3-star restaurant?

In most places, 'rounding-up' is the standard formula (ie: leaving 3€ on a 47€ check). But when dinner is 550€, would or should you leave 50€? Is that too much?

Assuming the service is good, which is should be in a 3 star place, it still seems that's excessive in France. After all, service compris is already included. But still, a gesture of thanks is often given.

So I'm wondering what people think is acceptable to leave in high-end restaurant in France?

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It's common to leave some coins, or a few euros, for a low- or mid-priced meal in France if the service is good, but what does one do in a 3-star restaurant?

In most places, 'rounding-up' is the standard formula (ie: leaving 3€ on a 47€ check). But when dinner is 550€, would or should you leave 50€? Is that too much?

Assuming the service is good, which is should be in a 3 star place, it still seems that's excessive in France. After all, service compris is already included. But still, a gesture of thanks is often given.

So I'm wondering what people think is acceptable to leave in high-end restaurant in France?

I am no expert in 3 star restaurants and have only been to one, and wasn't paying. That said, I think your instincts are right that 50€ is excessive. But, you obviously wouldn't leave a few coins either as that would be insulting. And, in this case, the waiters are trully proffessionals and are being paid a fairly decent salary. I think if it were me, and the service was exceptional or really contributed to the meal in some way, I would probably leave 20-30€.

I always leave something for good service in your average restaurant because I know first hand how crappy the pay is, but starred places seem different.

I am curious to see what others with more experience do.

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In Europe, if the service has been good, I always leave a 20 Euro bill and, if exceptiona

a 50 Euro bill. It might be excessive but I think it is important to reward service. Now, I have left 3-star restaurants with a measly tip if necessary.

In the US, it is always 20% (and not before alcohol and taxes as my friends my insist).

It depends on the service, I guess.

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It's common to leave some coins, or a few euros, for a low- or mid-priced meal in France if the service is good, but what does one do in a 3-star restaurant?

In most places, 'rounding-up' is the standard formula (ie: leaving 3€ on a 47€ check). But when dinner is 550€, would or should you leave 50€? Is that too much?

Assuming the service is good, which is should be in a 3 star place, it still seems that's excessive in France. After all, service compris is already included. But still, a gesture of thanks is often given.

So I'm wondering what people think is acceptable to leave in high-end restaurant in France?

Well, it is a good question. I was in Paris last week and left €50 in cash at both Le Meurice and Pierre Gagnaire. But the bill for two at both was more than €550. I felt good about leaving the €50, but if I had not felt satisfied, I would have left nothing. I don't think there is an in between at such places. But that is just me.

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50 € seems like an awful lot for France. Half of that is IMO the upper limit. Even at a 3-star many French people don't tip at all. At upperscale places, dining-room salaries are quite high, much higher than the kitchen crew's. There is no need to tip extravagantly. It makes more sense to give a good 5-euro bill to the single waiter, or the one of two waiters, catering to one whole bistrot room at lunchtime. This one will reach the end of the service exhausted.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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I don't tip in 3 stars (or two stars or one stars).

Service - normally at 12.5% - is explicitly included in the price and I've never been made to feel that not leaving more on top is ungenerous.

I would suspect that other culture's habits are behind some of the generosity.

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I rarely, if ever, tip at starred places.

Likewise I never leave more than the odd change at the lowest level places. 12 Euro lunch, normally family owned & run. I don't believe in tipping the owner(s).

In the mid category I do tip IF I've had excellent service. I'll do anywhere from 2 Euro per person at table to 5 Euro per head for extraordinary service.

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I actually never give tips at the European and Japanese 3-star restaurants since both of them are already included. If not mistaken, Europe tips and tax are about 19.6% while Tokyo would include 10-12% service charge automatically. In the US, like when I ate at ADNY last time, I left about 20% for the tips


Edited by Bu Pun Su (log)

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