Tipping in Paris Restaurants: A Guide for Tourists

Written by Jim Belt in Restaurant

In many countries, tipping is a mandatory gesture of appreciation for service, but in France, it's more nuanced. This guide covers tipping etiquette for tourists. It tells you whether and how much to tip in Parisian restaurants.

In Paris, a service charge is typically included in restaurant bills, and additional tipping is not obligatory. However, it is customary to leave a small extra tip, such as rounding up to the nearest euro, for good service.

Tipping Customs

Tipping not customary


  • Service charge is legally included in your bill, but additional tipping is customary for exceptional service.
  • Understand the local tipping etiquette to enhance your dining experience.
  • Small tips are appreciated and contribute to the cultural respect and enjoyment of your meal.

Steps to Tip at a Parisian Restaurant

When dining in Paris, you might find the tipping process slightly different from what you're used to. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate tipping at a Parisian restaurant.

Evaluating Service Quality

At a Parisian restaurant, begin by considering the quality of service you've received. Good service in Paris includes attentiveness, helpfulness, and a friendly attitude from the staff. Was your experience pleasant, and did the server go beyond the basic expectations? Your assessment of the service quality will influence whether a tip is warranted and how much you should give.

Calculating the Tip Amount

Service charges are typically included in the price of your meal. However, if you've received exceptional service, a small tip is a nice gesture. For good service, consider rounding up to the next 5 or 10 euros, or adding about 5-10% of the total bill. Remember, tipping in Paris is less about obligation and more a sign of gratitude for exceptional service.

Methods of Tipping

Cash: Leaving a cash tip is the most straightforward method. You can simply leave the extra euros on the table or hand them directly to your server when you finish your meal. Credit Card: Unlike some countries, tips cannot always be added to the credit card charge in Parisian restaurants. If paying with a card, you'll often need to tip in cash instead. Keep these guidelines in mind to show your appreciation for excellent service during your culinary adventures in Paris.

Understanding Tipping in France

When visiting France, knowing how to handle tipping at restaurants can enhance your dining experience and show appreciation for service received. Below, you'll find a breakdown of the essential information about tipping practices in French eateries.

The Basics of Tipping

In France, tipping is not mandatory but is considered a polite gesture for satisfactory service. While many locals might round up the bill or leave small change, as a tourist, you might wonder about the appropriate amount. A general practice is leaving a few extra euros on the table, especially if you've received exceptional service. The standard amount, if you choose to tip, is typically around 5-10% of the bill.

Service Charge and VAT in Bills

It's important to note that French bills typically include a service charge (usually around 15%), known as "service compris," and the value-added tax (VAT). These charges mean that the staff are already paid a living wage and the price you see on the menu is what you're expected to pay. However, this service charge doesn't always go directly to the waiter, so a small tip is still appreciated.

When to Tip and When Not To

You should feel no obligation to tip at every casual dining scenario in France; however, it is customary to leave a little extra for more attentive or high-quality service. In upscale restaurants or if you've received particularly good service, consider a tip to acknowledge the waiter's efforts. Conversely, for simpler services like a quick coffee or if the service was subpar, you might not tip at all. Always use your discretion based on the quality of service you receive.

Remember, your decision to leave a tip is a personal one, and is not required but always welcomed by the service staff if you've had a good experience.

Parisian Dining Etiquette Tips

When dining in Paris, certain practices can help ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. This section will guide you through making restaurant reservations, what is expected at the table, and how to interact with servers.

Restaurant Reservations and Seating

To avoid disappointment, make reservations at Parisian restaurants, especially those that are popular or high-end. Upon arrival, wait to be seated, as the host will guide you to your table. Avoid selecting your own seat unless invited to do so, as there may be a specific seating plan in place.

Table Manners and Behaviors

Once seated, place your napkin on your lap and await the staff to commence service. It is customary to keep your hands visible on the table and not on your lap. Good manners include eating quietly, not resting elbows on the table, and using utensils for most foods, even those you might eat with hands elsewhere.

Interacting with Servers

In Paris, it's polite to be courteous to your waiters. Address them as "monsieur" or "madame", and say "s'il vous plaît" (please) when making a request and "merci" (thank you) to express gratitude. While Parisians generally speak English, making an effort in French is appreciated. Keep in mind that tipping in Paris is not obligatory, as service is included in bills, but leaving small change for good service is a kind and appreciated gesture.

Tipping for Other Services in Paris

When enjoying the varied services Paris has to offer, it's helpful to know just how much to tip beyond the dining table.

Service Type Suggested Tipping Amount
Bars and Cafés Round up or leave small change
Informal Eateries A couple of euros on the table
Hotel Concierge 5 to 10 euros for special services
Hotel Housekeeping 1 to 2 euros per night
Hotel Spa Services 10 to 15 percent of the service cost
Taxi Drivers Round up or an extra 5 to 10 percent
Tour Guides 10 to 15 percent of the tour cost

Bars, Cafés, and Informal Eateries

In Parisian bars and cafés, it's common to round up the bill or leave small change—think euros, not cents. A simple gesture of leaving an extra euro for your morning espresso is appreciated. For informal eateries, leaving a couple of euros on the table is a courteous way to say "merci."

Hotel and Accommodation Services

At hotels, consider tipping the concierge for hard-to-get reservations at about 5 to 10 euros. For room cleaning staff, 1 to 2 euros per night is the norm, and a bit more for high-end accommodations. If you visit the hotel spa, a tip of 10 to 15 percent is a kind way to show appreciation for the service.

Taxi Drivers and Tour Guides

With taxi drivers, rounding up to the nearest euro is a common practice, but for longer rides or especially helpful service, an additional 5 to 10 percent tip is generous. Tour guides in Paris typically receive 10 to 15 percent of the tour cost, particularly if their insight has enriched your experience of the city.

Dealing with Tipping Challenges

Navigating tipping in Parisian restaurants can sometimes be tricky, especially when understanding the nuances of service and the customary 'pourboire.' Here's how to handle these situations with ease.

Addressing Service Issues

When you receive exceptional service, it's a kind gesture to leave a tip to express your appreciation. In Paris, this might be a modest sum, on top of the service charge already included in your bill. Conversely, if the service is bad and impacts your dining experience, it is acceptable not to tip. Remember, in Paris, tips are seen as a bonus, not an obligation.

Understanding the 'Pourboire'

The term 'pourboire' literally translates to "for drink," implying a small amount for the server to buy a drink. In Paris restaurants, a pourboire is seen as a goodwill gesture rather than a strict requirement. If you are satisfied with the service, leaving a few euros on the table is an appreciated way to say thank you. It's an integral part of the local tipping etiquette and is typically done by simply rounding up the bill or leaving up to 10% of the total, depending on your level of satisfaction.

Published: 18-01-2024

Italian Restaurant Tipping Practices

Navigating the etiquette of tipping at Italian restaurants can enhance your dining experience and reflect your appreciation for service. This guide covers tipping …

Jim Belt in Restaurant
Tipping Etiquette in New York Restaurants