Note: This article was updated on September 15, 2014 with new links and information.
In a city where customer service is as low a priority as cleaning up after your dog, the scarcity of tipping in Paris should come as no surprise. Still, many Americans find it difficult to stop calculating 15-20% of the bill before it hits the café table.
Some visitors and foreigners in Paris take a “no-tip” approach to everything in Paris, based on the idea that service is included in the price listed on the menu. There are general rules, however, for those who want to be good customers, especially those who want to become regulars at neighborhood establishments.
No tip. Photo: Kenn Wilson
In general, it is never wrong to tip, but some people just don’t expect it. Imagine if you left the dentist a few dollars after a mouth cleaning—it’s nice but also, let’s admit, kind of weird.
Cafe: A quick coffee and croissant at the local café may set you back €5, but there’s no need to drop an extra euro on the tip. The server isn’t working for tips, and his salary is consistent despite how many tables he or she gets.
Bar: Drinks at a bar are usually tip-free and bartenders rarely expect anything extra, which is good news for happy hour fans.
Club: At clubs, coat checks already cost a few euros, so tipping more is unnecessary. I can only imagine tipping the checkers in ritzy clubs that budget-seekers don’t frequent anyway.
In general, the less something costs, the less likely it is that a tip will be necessary. Leaving 15% on a coffee that only cost two euros seems like you were trying too hard.
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Tip, please! Photo: Garthof
Restaurant: When a server goes out of their way to explain the wine list in a cozy neighborhood restaurant or is exceedingly nice throughout the service, a small tip is absolutely deserved. You can leave up to five euros depending on the bill and expect a gracious “merci.”
Hair: Hairdressers and barbers, especially if you want to become a regular without mangled bangs, appreciate a few extra euros.
Taxi: Taxi drivers usually expect a bit extra, understandably. Driving in Paris isn’t easy, and they will often be very helpful with luggage and shopping bags.
Guides: Tour guides are not poorly paid, but those who go the extra mile to answer questions and make the visits enjoyable deserve to be tipped. Anyone in the service industry, familiar with foreigners, will often expect a tip, so have a few coins on hand.
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Not sure if the service was good? You spent two hours in a café and only bought two coffees? The taxi driver was a bit erratic driving down the Champs Elysées? When in doubt, just round up the bill, even if that means leaving just 50 centimes.
Although Parisians seem exceedingly proud, no one is going to refuse your tips if you offer it. Money speaks the same in any language!
Got a tip for us? What has been your tipping experience in Paris? Tell us about it in the comments section.