When planning a trip to France, many travelers dream of the simplicity of sitting at the terrace of a sidewalk cafe in Paris and drinking a glass of wine while watching passers-by. But then comes the check and the questions that can be so fraught with difficulties: to tip or not to tip, and if so, how much?
Ultimately, tipping is a demonstration to express satisfaction for the service provided and Americans have a reputation for tipping well. This is why there is often an expectation in France that visitors from the U.S. will leave good tips. However, tipping in France is entirely up to you and is rarely expected in most situations.
Guidelines for tipping in France should be based on customs but also the quality of your experience, and they are not strictly followed everywhere in France. In some parts of the country, your tips will be considered a mark of generosity on your part as the standards of living there are not as high as in Paris.
Tipping at hotels in France is not mandatory, but it can be a nice gesture if someone goes out of their way to help make your stay extra special.
- If a bellhop brings your bags to your room, a tip of 2-3 euros per bag is the norm—and a bit more if they are very pleasant and helpful.
- For a spotless stay, you can leave 1-2 euros per night for the housekeeper.
- If the hotel concierge provides an extra service, like making reservations or booking tickets, you can tip anywhere between 8 and 20 euros, depending on how upscale your hotel is.
Unlike in America, cafes and restaurants in Paris and the rest of France include a 15 percent service charge in the check, which is required by French law. The words service compris indicate that the tip has already been included, so take a good look at the bill when it arrives.
- If you'd like to tip on top of the service charge, a small amount is a nice gesture. Anything between 5 and 10 percent is considered generous.
- If there is a coat check at the restaurant, or anywhere else, it is customary to tip 1 euro for every large item when you come back to pick up your belongings.
- If you order a drink at a bar or cafe, a tip of 1 to 2 euros per drink is optional if you receive good service.
In France, cab drivers don't make a lot of money, so you should consider tipping even though it's not expected. You can either offer to round up your fare or tip 5-10 percent on the total.
Whether you're on a multi-day bus tour through the countryside or an hour-long tour in a museum, it's good etiquette to tip your tour guide when in France.
- For a regular tour guide on a day tour, you can tip between 2 and 5 euros per day when the tour is over.
- If your tour has a driver, who is not also your guide, you should tip 1 to 2 euros per day for every person in your party.
- If you have a guide at a museum, show your appreciation with a tip of 1 to 2 euros.
There was a time, not so long ago, when ushers at theaters were not paid at all by theater operators and lived on tips only. This is no longer the case, but it is still customary to give 1 to 2 euros to the ushers if attending a night at the Opera, who also get paid on sales of evening programs. If you visit a movie theatre with an usher, you should give them 1 euro.
Tipping at spas in France varies depending on the spa you go to, so ask the reception desk when you check in for your treatment what's appropriate. If tipping is encouraged, you should tip between 10-20 percent.