Myth: You’re not Expected to Tip in French Restaurants
There’s a myth about tipping in French restaurants. The only people that don’t tip in French restaurants are tourists that read English language guides about France that tell them they don’t need to tip.
It’s true that there isn’t much of a tipping culture here in France; thank goodness! I find the constant tipping (for seemingly everything) when I visit the United States exhausting. However, it is customary to leave tips in restaurants where you have a full sit down meal. There are no absolute set rules but here’s a general guide.
You don’t need to tip an enormous amount. For a restaurant where there is often already a 10% service charge already added to your bill a couple euros would suffice and is indeed expected. Make sure that this service charge is indeed ‘compris‘ in your bill, otherwise, you may find yourself not paying for service at all.
I know tipping is considered somewhat of a faff, but it is basic etiquette in France for you to do so. Besides, tipping is becoming easier with growing technology in restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. With high-tech POS systems becoming more prevalent in hospitality industries, with the ability to choose from preset tip options, paying tips has never been easier! You can find additional info here; by no means is this something that all food and drink services have, but it is definitely becoming more prominent.
Service in France
I must admit that I am often tempted not to tip if I’m confronted with the Gaulois sneer. You must remember though that service with a smile is an anglo-Saxon concept that is only starting to take hold here now. A server is not considered beneath a patron and has a right to tell you ‘non’ in all manner of situations. You are not king as customer here. Vive la Revolution! This can be difficult to get used to…
In busy Bistros, when people tip, one of the servers will often shout ‘service!’ quite loud as they drop the change (or pièces jaunes) in the tip jar. (Tips are often shared out at the end of the week with the kitchen staff as well). This announcement is followed by all servers responding with ‘merci!!’. This ritual is not only to say thank you but to remind you to indeed tip as well. You may also hear servers say ‘service royale!!’ which means a tip of 10 euros or more. Royal service indeed.
How much to tip:
Anywhere from 2-5 euros is customary for a meal in a restaurant. If the service was really good or if you’re a table of more than 5 people 10 euros or more is normal. There is no need to tip for every single drink in a bar or in a fast food restaurant. Though, if you have several drinks in a café a tip is expected.
The best tippers in France:
Oddly enough, in general, Germans are the best tippers in France. You would think it would be Americans but as the guides tell people not to tip tourists indeed take this advice!
Don’t tip someone before they provide a service for you in expectation of better service. You will most likely receive worse service as this is considered insulting. The French are proud people!
Tip = Pourboire
I found this helpful guideline on Fodders.com :
For a bit of fun, read about my horrible experience working in a French restaurant.