Tipping a waiter, usher or taxi driver in Paris can be very different in comparison to other countries. In the Next few paragraphs we will attempt to clarify some of the common mistakes made when tipping in France, and the recommended denominations that you should give in each situation.
Taxi drivers in Paris usually expect some sort of a loose change tip at least, however I have an issue with tipping taxi drivers in Paris. I have tipped taxi drivers in Paris in the past, but only if they are friendly or helpful. I personally have not had many good taxi drivers in Paris in fact have found them to be extremely rude, telling me to go away, taking me the long route to my destination and 8 out of 10 times they refuse to speak English.
I have given up on regular taxis in Paris now, and only use an uber taxi due to the great prices, customer service and the review process.
With that being said, if you do manage to find a good taxi driver in Paris, I suggest tipping the driver 0.50 to 5 euro, depending on the length of the journey.
Restaurants and Cafés
The first thing you need to know about restaurants in Paris and throughout France, is that they already include a 15% service compris (tip included) tax. I am aware that some of my French friends will never tip at restaurants solely because of the 15% VAT Tax, out of principle.
French waiters and waitresses legally must receive a wage and do not live off tips as seen in North America. Presently the minimum wage in France is a little under 9 euro. It is also a legal requirement for employees in France to receive health care, paid vacations, and retirement benefits.
Clearly France is not your typical tipping country, however most people will leave some loose change or possibly something greater if they received good service from their wait-staff.
If you wish to leave a tip and are using a credit card I strongly suggest that you don’t add the tip onto the final bill, because it is more than likely that the waiter will not see a cent of that money. Just because there is a 15% tipping fee does not mean the waiter will receive this money. In this example it is recommended that you leave a few coins in the tipping tray instead.
Hotel Porters and Concierges
All over the world hotel porters are usually tipped. The proper amount for France would be approximately 1euro per piece of luggage as a rule-of-thumb.
If your hotel concierge has been helpful to you and polite during your stay, then some kind of note in euros would be an acceptable tip. The total value would be a personal choice taking into consideration of just how helpful the concierge has been to you, combined with the calibre of hotel you have stayed at. It is recommended to wait until the end of your stay to tip the concierge, otherwise if you tip for every phone call or event tickets, it could become very expensive, very quickly.
Often coat check stations will have a sign which will inform you of how much it is to check your coat. In this situation tips are not necessary. Conversely if there is no sign or price displayed then a 1 or 2 euro tip per item should be enough.
On rare occasions you may see an attendant at the entrance of a Paris restroom. Similar to a coat checker, if there is a sign stating a monetary value then a tip is not necessary, and in fact you are paying to use the toilet. However if they do not imply I price to use the bathroom then you can leave a tip if you are satisfied with the cleanliness of the toilet, as it is their job to clean them. 0.50 to 1 euro is typical in this situation.
Tour guides are usually paid pretty well in Paris and can often get away with not paying tax or as they say in France, “working on the black”. If the tour was already really expensive to start with then I would probably not give a tip unless the tour was amazing.
If you choose one of the many and now very popular FREE walking tours, then a tip is very much expected, but 5 or 10 euro should be enough due to the often large numbers on these tours. These are my favourite kind of tour, because the guides have to work for their money and they learn to find many ways to please customers while on the tour.
Simply put, if the tour was bad then don’t tip. If the tour was good leave a tip. If the tour was amazing, be a little more generous.
Hairdressers & Barbers
The etiquette at a barber or hairdresser in Paris would be to give a few euro tip on top of the final bill. This is especially the case if you would like to return this barber or hairdresser on a regular basis and don’t wish to walk away with a bad haircut. Personally, if I was not happy with the hair cut I would not leave a tip.
I have not encountered this situation as yet, however from what I am told it is necessary to give a 1 or 2 euro tip to an usher who shows you to your seat. This may occur at major events such as the opera or a concert, as well as small private theatres. I have also learned that if you forget to tip then ushers may remind you of your tipping duties.
In recent times it was not uncommon for usherettes to receive no wage from theatre owners. This is not the case any more, and by law ushers must be paid a wage in France.