Trying to understand etiquette in France can feel a bit like walking into an English literature class where everyone else has done the reading, and you never even got the syllabus. There are rules of decorum you’ll encounter in France—like whether to say hello to people with a formal French greeting or a more casual one—that truly take years to learn. However, the more immediate etiquette practices, like when to tip, can be learned fairly quickly ahead of your trip. And the rest of it—like when to transition from saying “have a good day” to “have a good evening”—will come in due time.
All that is to say: here’s everything you need to know about how much to tip in France.
Tipping a Restaurant Server or Bartender in France
To start off, tipping in France is not expected or required, per se. And if your restaurant bill says service compris, that tends to be final price, implying that gratuity is not necessary. Travel writer Kimberley Lovato, who has owned a home on the French Riviera in Sainte-Maxime for 15 years and spends part of her year there, further explains service compris:
“In France, there is a 15% service charge automatically included on every restaurant bill, whether it’s La Tour d’Argent or the corner bistro,” says Lovato. “This money doesn’t go directly to the server as it might in the U.S., but rather to the restaurant owner who pays the staff a salary.”
So tourists wondering how much to tip in France should keep in mind that a service charge was likely already added to their bill. That being said, if locals are exceptionally pleased with the service, they might round up to the closest multiple of five (i.e., if your lunch cost €33, you could leave €35 on the table). Another way to approach this is to simply leave 5% or 10% if the service was excellent.
As a local, Lovato says, “If you frequent a place or have a nice rapport with a server, leave a small amount as a sign of appreciation and respect.”
When stopping into your local boulangerie in the morning, tips on a café au lait and chausson aux pommes are not necessary, but you can opt to leave your change. If the pastry costs €2 and the café au lait costs €2, hand over €5 and step away with a “merci, bonne journée” to imply that you don’t need your change.
The same practice works at a bar—if you want to show your appreciation, round up to the nearest multiple of five or 10 on your final tab, or leave your change after a round. You’re not obligated to, but if you’re a fan of the cocktails and service, there’s nothing wrong with leaving that last euro as a show of thanks.
Lovato says that while gratuity “in general in cafes and restaurants is not necessary,” she likes to leave about 10%. And that’s not just to remain in good standing with servers at her favorite bars or cafes. She also takes into account the cost of living and wages of the servers in France.
“Paris is an expensive city and while servers are making a salary, it might be slightly above minimum wage,” says Lovato. “If I am outside of Paris, in a village, I will also tip because while the cost of living is less, so are the job opportunities.”
How to Tip the Hotel Staff in France
French hotels have a different gratuity culture than what you’d find on the streets of Paris. That’s because, for the most part, French hotels cater to foreign tourists. And the global traveler tends to follow a slightly higher standard when tipping at a luxury property.
In terms of transportation logistics, for a luggage handler or a doorman hailing a cab for you, handing him or her €1 to €2 is fine. Similarly, if you take a shuttle from the airport, tipping €1 to €2 per bag is customary. And when taking a taxi, tips aren’t expected, though travelers can round up or offer 5% of the final fare for great service.
For housekeeping, you’d leave gratuity as you would in most hotels around the world—a few euro per day. And finally, for a concierge giving excellent recommendations or taking care of your reservations, you might tip five to €15 for each reservation or booking they handle. If you consistently work with one personal concierge, you can tip in a lump sum at the end of your stay, but at most luxury hotels in Paris, you’ll work with various concierges and should tip on a per-service basis.
How to Tip on Specialty Services in France
Beyond the typical dinner, bar, and hotel expenses, there’s gratuity on travel costs like city guides or personal chauffeurs to consider. For an excellent tour guide, tipping €25 per person is a good starting point. Depending on how much they tailor the itinerary to your needs, and how informative they are, you could consider going up to as much as €50 per person. For novelty luxury services, such as a personal stylist or shopper at Galeries Lafayette, gratuity is of course based on your experience, but should start at around 10%.