Tipping in France

Oct 13th, 2006, 07:00 AM
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Tipping in France

I have read everything the guide books say about tipping in France, basically, "service is included, but leave a little something". However, I've been told that in a top-notch restaurant, you should leave more than the customary "pourboire". We dined recently at the Chevre d'Or in Eze and the service was over-the-top. Our tasting menu was $168 Euros per person. My husband and I did the North American thing and tipped 15% of the bill for excellent service. Was this too much?

lms2 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 07:03 AM
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What I have always been told is that the tip by law is built into the bill and that if you are really satisfied you could round up the bill and leave a few euros. I would assume that the same applies to high end restaurants as well.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 07:04 AM
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Hi LM,

If you thought that the service was good enough to warrant an additional 15%, then you did the right thing.

ira is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 07:06 AM
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But in my experience with French folks in restaurants only Americans would be daft enough to do so - you are in fact tipping 30%, added to the already substantial 15% included in the bill. Yes wait staff just love to see Americans come their way.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 07:13 AM
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I guess it is true that "only Americans are daft enough" to care about rewarding a hard working person for treating them above and beyond the call of duty. (I'm not talking about normal daily service in normal simple restaurants, however).

If the servers went out of their way to make your meal wonderful -- including dealing with the language inconvenience, then there is no reason to feel you've done anything bad by rewarding them for doing so. Don't let others try to convince you that you've done some horrible sin by being nice to someone who was nice to you.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 07:17 AM
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Well, yes, 15% was too much. But you had a wonderful meal and wonderful service so don't worry about it. Some of that money will go to the people who work there, and they're not millionaires.

We live in Paris and we usually round up with small change, leaving a tip between 5-7.5% in ordinary restaurants. In a very swish, expensive restaurant where the service is great, we might tip 10%.
Kate_W is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 07:19 AM
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NeoPatrick: i agree with you - i was just presenting what most French would do and waiters would never expect such a tip i believe. Maybe i'm wrong and my French relatives, who inevitably tell me not to tip extra besides a few coins even if the service are super are just cheap skates - but my feeling is that they are typically - they laugh at me, a Yank for wanting to tip - saying it's in the bill. If someone wants to tip 30% of course that's OK - but i don't think French would ever do that. I can stand corrected if some French folks say otherwise however.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 07:34 AM
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In France the staff are paid to do the work and it is now pretty odd to pay them tips. In recent trips I have had my tip returned to me by Frenh staff. It was explained to me that it is not only wrong its a bit insulting.

Now everyone knows that Americans tip hence the French understand that they are not being insulting its just they would expect the English to know.

So in France no tips. In UK try to limit the tips so for instance a £40 bill requires a £ 2 to 3 tip normally in cash to stop the owners grabbing it

In Germany I find they like you to round up so Euro 38 would require Euro 40 payment and Danke with a horizontal move of the hand to indicate "thats it"

bilboburgler is online now  
Oct 13th, 2006, 07:38 AM
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I know many French restaurant workers and can assure you that they don't see a penny of the included service charge. This is in effect a "wages tax" which allows the overtaxed and over-regulated owner to pay the workers' often pitiful salaries.

Tip in accordance to the level of service received. 15% is not excessive.

Among the the French themselves the French have a reputation of being unnecessarily fussy (Parisians in particular) and are notoriously bad tippers.
waring is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 08:04 AM
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If French wait people are so underpaid they tend to stay in these jobs forever. In the town i go to often i've seen the same wait people at the same places every year - they get free health care and i'm not sure they are underpaid. My (French) son had two friends who were sons of waiters and they lived a decent lifestyle - so they may not get the tip, they get decent wages is what i heard - not like in the U.S. where wait people have to grovel for tips due to a nearly zero salary.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 08:16 AM
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Please note that what we call a "tip" in the US - usually 15% of the tab - is a "service charge" in most of Europe and is included in the tab.

There, a tip is an additional gratuity for extra good service.

ira is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 08:23 AM
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<In recent trips I have had my tip returned to me by Frenh staff. It was explained to me that it is not only wrong its a bit insulting>

the above post should speak volumes about tipping in France - it's not unusual for this to happen i guess and may be consider gauche.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 08:35 AM
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At expensive Paris restaurants, when service is "over the top", my DH and I usually leave 10% in cash as a tip. In moderate priced, nice bistros and brasseries we normally leave E5 which is 5% more or less. Cafe's, we round up but if we've had food (as opposed to just a beverage)never less than E1. Do the wait staff think we're daft/crass? I don't know but it feels "right" to me.
Margaretlb is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 08:54 AM
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I would assume that the "tip" in this case was given because the service seemed extra good.

That service charge or whatever you want to call it that is "built in" and that those waiters get as part of being "better paid" than waiters in the US, etc., etc., etc., I assume (and please DO correct me if I am wrong) is built in to compensate for ordinary service that one would expect from these folks.

IMO there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving someone something extra because you think they deserve it and if someone thinks that's stupid or anything else less than honorable let them think it.

Dukey is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 08:59 AM
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A wait person may say i get paid to do my job and i'm a professional and will always do it properly - i'd say yeh you can tip but not just waiters, metro ticket sellers, shop clerks, hotel desk, bus drivers, postal clerks, museum ticket takers and museum guards, etc. they are all doing their job for which they do, in my understanding, get a living wage. Let's even tip the pilot as one thread suggested!
PalenqueBob is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 09:06 AM
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Waiters in France are not paid pitiful salaries. Their legislated wages are higher than in other countries, as well as their benefits. Sure, one doesn't get rich, but within the context of tipping, you can't compare what they earn (and their benefits, vacation, etc.) to the US where tipping is expected and the govt. allows waiters to be paid below minimum wage and no employee benefits such as holidays/vacation are mandated to anyone.
Christina is online now  
Oct 13th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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Christina- do you tip in restaurants or cafes? Curious as i think you have great insight into these matters.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 11:34 PM
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Please stop leaving big tips.

It is not expected, but may become so.

And some of us live here !

mpprh is offline  
Oct 14th, 2006, 03:10 AM
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This is all about cultural conditioning. Of course tipping "feels right" to an American. On the other hand, we (Australians) have just returned from six weeks in the US and Canada, where naturally we tipped in accordance with local custom, but it never "felt right" to us, even though we knew that waitstaff are paid a derisory wage there.

We feel strongly that all workers should have the dignity of a living wage and not have to bow and scrape for handouts. And if workers are paid a decent wage, there's no reason to top up their pay for doing their job, which in a waiter's case means making his or her customers' experience an enjoyable one. Cultural conditioning again.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Oct 14th, 2006, 04:47 AM
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Ok, going to change the topic here for a second. The new trend in the US for hair stylist, waxing, ect. is to rent a chair or space. Question, are we to consider them as self-employed/owner (no tip required)? Same as a dog groomer who rents a spot in a doggy daycare or vet office. Tip or no tip?
parisnow is offline  

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