Tipping in Paris
There is no fixed amount but if you wish to leave a tip for good service, most round the check up – such as if the check is €18, you can leave €1-2, or for a €1,20 coffee, you can leave €1,50. But when in doubt, around 5% is considered fine, or up to 10% if you’ve had exceptional treatment.
Other circumstances where a tip is common: In restaurants if you have a baby or children that require special attention, if you don’t speak the language and the server is particularly patient and helpful, or if you stand up and spill red wine all over the place and broken a couple of glasses as well.
If you do want to leave a tip for the server, don’t add it to your credit card slip: leave the bills or coins on the tray where the check was presented, or on the table.
Lastly: Don’t feel obligated to overtip. In all but the fanciest of restaurants, leaving more than 5-10% is generally not done, even though it may be customary and considered impolite to leave less than 15% in your country.
So here’s a little guide based on my observations and experiences dining and getting around Paris:
If you have a drink, although not necessary, often people leave the change. If the bill is 3.80€, you can leave 4€. 5€ (unless you’ve accidentally smashed the table in half or something) is excessive.
Simply round it up the nearest whole figure if you want. At the bar, if a coffee is 1.20€, you can leave an extra 10-20 centimes behind if you want.
Meals & Restaurants
In normal restaurants, including cafés, one can leave €1 to €2 for every €20. So if the check is €80, you can leave anywhere from €2-€4. Think of it as a gesture, not an obligation. Once again, it’s not necessary but is appreciated for good service. And I think this equation works out just about right.
In nicer restaurants, such as 3-star tables, where the service is exemplary, a tip of €20 is fine to leave. It’s normal to tip the coat check person €1. When in doubt, look at French diners and see what they leave as a gratuity.
In simple restaurants, if the waiter grabs your coats and puts in on the hook, there’s no need to give anything. But in a nicer restaurant, especially if there’s a coat check, €1 per coat is expected.
Like restaurants, tipping in a taxi isn’t necessary, although you can give a little extra, rounding up the fare or giving an extra euro for especially good service. If coming from the airport and the driver’s helped you with luggage and the like, 5% is fine to give him or her.
Conversely, if they take you on a tour of Paris, ie: the longest route possible, I don’t give them anything unless they were doing it to avoid traffic or a demonstration blocking the streets.
If your concierge at the hotel goes out of their way to make you a host of restaurant reservations, especially at hard-to-get places, it’s a nice gesture to give them something for their efforts. While a box of chocolates or a bottle of good wine is welcome, a monetary gesture of gratitude is a good way to show your appreciation.
If they make a phone call or two to get you into a local bistro, it’s not necessary. If you give them a list of places that you’d like them to book you at, I do recommend a little something, especially if you plan to go back to that hotel. Trust me, they’ll remember you. And getting you into a nicer place that’s normally booked is quite a feat—depending on the level of hotel you’re staying at or restaurant you’ve requested, 5, 10, or 20€ is appreciated.
A tip of €1 – €2 per bag is appreciated, unless the bag is extra-heavy, in which case you can be more generous.
And if you go to the theatre, it’s almost mandatory to tip the usher at least €1 per person for showing you to your seat.
A 10% gratuity is fine to give the person who cuts your hair.
Food Delivery Services
€2 is considered standard, but some leave people give the delivery person an additional euro or two.
Wikipedia‘s Guide To Tipping in France and elsewhere.
ParisMarais has a few tips
Fodors’ Foodie Guide
About.com on Tipping in France
Heather’s notes at Secrets of Paris