The Guide to Tipping in France

France has a different tipping culture than many other countries. It's mostly optional, but appreciated depending on the situation.
Anya Kartashova
By Anya Kartashova 
A classic Parisian cafe

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France is one of the most visited countries in the world by tourists, so its not surprising that you're daydreaming of touring the Eiffel Tower, Versailles and Côte d'Azur with a baguette in hand.

If you’re crunching the numbers for an upcoming trip to France (maybe for the 2024 Summer Olympics?), you likely want to know whether or not you should plan for tipping. The short answer is that you don’t need to budget extra for gratuities, as most service charges are already included in the bill. That said, there are a few instances where tipping is customary.

Let’s take a look at when and how much to tip in France.

Do you tip in France?

Tipping in France, as is the case in many Western European countries, is not expected. Service workers like waiters, baristas and bartenders get paid a living wage and have health insurance, so there’s no need to flex your mental muscles and calculate a 20% tip after a sit-down meal.

Despite it not being the norm, outstanding service and one-off services might warrant a tip.

Tipping in French restaurants

Having spent all day sightseeing in Paris, Nice or Strasbourg, you’re exhausted and all you want is a nice meal to round out the busy day. You order a French onion soup (or, as they call it in France, onion soup or soupe a l'oignon gratinée), some escargot and perhaps a chocolate souffleé, wash it all down with a glass of chardonnay and start feeling pretty good about life. Until the bill comes, that is.

First of all, it’s in French. Second, there are things on it, like “TVA” and “service compris,” that you know for sure you didn’t order. And third, this is the moment your palms start sweating wondering whether to tip or not.

TVA, or Taxe sur la Valeur Ajoutée, is value added tax. This is a general consumption tax and is included in the menu price of each item.

“Service compris” means “service included” and is usually 15% of your total bill. It’s included in all restaurant checks by law, even if it isn’t clearly indicated on the bill. This is true for small corner cafes as well as Michelin-star restaurants.

How to tip at restaurants in France

Let’s say you’ve had exceptional service and would like to leave a tip anyway. Feel free to add something called a “pourboire” (translating to “to have something to drink” or simply, a gratuity). A few euros in cash, even on a large check, would be considered a nice gesture.

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At a high-end restaurant, 5% of the total amount will be more than enough to show appreciation for excellent service.

It will be difficult to pay for a tip on a credit card, so make sure to carry small bills for this very occasion.

Tipping in French coffee shops or bars

One peculiar thing about ordering hot drinks or a glass of wine at a café or a brasserie in France is the prices are not the same for drinks consumed at the bar versus at a table. If you take your drink to the table, the price will be a bit higher than if you were to drink it while standing at the bar. The price difference should be noted on the menu.

How to tip for drinks in France

Whether drinking espresso or alcohol, tipping just a few coins is acceptable. For example, if your coffee was 2.70 euros, you can leave 3 euros and tip 30 cents.

Tipping in French hotels

You might be compelled to thank a luggage porter or housekeeping staff for attending to your needs during your stay in France. A euro or 2 per bag will suffice for luggage handlers who deliver bags to your room. As for housekeeping, a couple of euros per night per guest will be appreciated.

Tipping taxi drivers in France

Do you tip taxis in France? Tipping taxi drivers in France isn’t required. As is the case with cafes, rounding up the bill to the nearest euro is acceptable. Say, your cab ride cost 29.30 euros. Simply hand the driver 30 euros and exit the car.

Tipping tour guides in France

Tours and excursions in France are where the tipping rules deviate a little from the norm. It’s considered good etiquette to tip tour guides. Expect to tip 2 to 5 euros per day for a multi-day tour guide. If a driver is involved, factor in another 1 to 2 euros per day.

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If you take free walking tours, which have become popular in many major cities in France, be aware that these tours aren’t technically free. They’re tip-based, meaning you’re free to decide how much a tour was worth to you.

Normally, walking tour guides have to pay out some of their earnings to the company running the “free” tour. If the guide was engaging, informative and fun, we recommend leaving 5 to 10 euros per person at the end of the tour.

Tipping theater ushers in France

This is another one you might have not thought of right away. When going out to a theater to see an opera, a classical music concert or a play, it is customary to tip their usher 1 to 2 euros for helping them find their seat.

Tipping in France recapped

As discussed, service industry workers in France get paid a salary, meaning they don’t rely on tips to survive. If you’d like to leave a tip nonetheless, there’s no harm in doing so. A small gratuity will be unexpected but appreciated.

However, remember to tip your tour guides to let them know you enjoyed the tour. And if you really want to live like a local while traveling, don’t forget to give theater ushers a couple of euros. They can actually use it.

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