Tipping or not tipping, mosquitoes, pickpockets, where to find free toilets, here a few questions tourists wonder, especially when they go to France for the first time. Here are a few advice from your local humble servant.
Tipping or not tipping
Recently I learnt that a Chinese tourist was required to tip at a Nice restaurant ( not a nice restaurant though) . I and my friends were just shocked and sorry for the lady who felt compelled to tip that very rude waiter who had not been nice to her during her lunch.
I decided it was about time to address this very basic topic on this blog…
NO, you never have to tip in France, this is not mandatory at all. Tipping is called « pourboire » in French, which roughly means » for a drink » , or » to pay you a drink », i.e the customer may leave some change to the waiter if he found the service satisfactory.
Some people just leave a few coins, coming from the change presented after payment. If you pay by credit card, you may leave a coin from your purse. You do not tip like in the USA by writing a special amount on the credit card bill.
Consumers prices are all tax included. No need to top up the VAT like in North America.
Restaurants usually indicate » taxes et service compris » which means » taxes and customer service included ». This confirms prices are nett.
Some people tip as well at the hairdresser’s , the flower shop, or the beautician’s by leaving coins.
Tipping 1 or 2 euros to the hairdresser or to the hairwash assistant remains quite common although more and more customers do not tip. To be true, in some expensive places , people do not tip at all, prices are already high enough.
The exception is in private-owned stage theaters, where the ushers are students or young artists who rely entirely on tips. Their job is to guide you to your seats. You can give them 1 euro for the whole group ( each viewer does not have to tip, one for the whole group is enough). Public-owned stage theaters employees are not allowed to receive tips , as they are employees with a civil servant status. They will refuse the tips if you try to leave them a coin. It happened to me once or twice, as I did not pay attention to the theater’s status.
FYI , an espresso coffee in France is about 2 euros, so you can see the level of amount you may leave. A big bottle of mineral water in a supermarket is about 1 euro. A baguette goes from 0.90 to 1.2 euro, depending on the kind of baguette you buy ( normal, traditional, with cereals, etc).
If you do not have enough petty cash, better not to tip than leaving 1 or 2 pence. No point.
Stay tuned for Part 2. To be continued.