Tipping Guide for Expats

Tipping is a tradition in France but not for the people whom you might expect. The French, for example, rarely tip waiters and if they do it is a nominal amount. Restaurant workers in France receive standard-level salaries so there is no deficit to be made up by tipping. That being said, leaving something (50 centimes for a coffee, 1-2 euros for a cafe meal, up to 10% for a luxurious restaurant meal) is widely practised although it is by no means compulsory. Service charges are included on almost every restaurant bill; in rare cases you will see ‘Service non-compris’ printed on the menu in which case you should tip 10-15% of the bill.

Doormen should be tipped 1-2 euros per bag, a few euros for calling you a taxi, and more for any personalized services they perform for you.

Hairdressers are tipped 5-10% of the bill but not necessarily every time – better yet, for a regular hairdresser, tip around Christmas of anywhere from 20-100 euros. Don’t forget the person who shampoos your hair – a few euros to him or her is more common than tipping the hairdresser.

A gardien(ne) receives a tip around Christmas as well, which may be a gift instead (a bottle of good champagne or scotch). The tip amount varies widely from building to building and depends on the services performed, generally between 50-200 euros. If you are friendly with your neighbors, ask for a general guideline.

Taxis drivers are not tipped in France unless they help you with bags, go out of their way for you, etc. Many will hand back even the smallest change unprompted. They are very pleased, however, when you tell them to “keep the change.”

Likewise, delivery people (groceries, pizza, furniture) do not expect tips – largely because you have already paid for their service. Nonetheless a few euros would be welcome to someone who’s climbed up 6 flights of stairs to your flat!

In general, if you feel like tipping someone do so discreetly and in modest amounts. And remember, that if you are a frequent visitor to their establishment, a small tip ensures a warm welcome and often better service.