We get a lot of questions about tips in Paris. We’re talking about the money, so get your mind out of the gutter. So many guides talk about when to tip or when not to, so we wanted to tell it from our perspective.
Living in Paris, it’s true that you don’t tip as pervasively as you may in the US, where tipping culture seems overbearing at times. As a general rule of thumb, however, you should never have to do math. Rounding a bill up for any basic meal or experience is usually more than generous enough. This means at restaurants and cafés, a five euro note is usually the most you’d leave. Michelin dining and other luxury experiences, however, could do with a little more.
Taxis – round up. Haircuts – round up. Drinks at a bar – don’t even bother! No one will get mad our chase you down because you didn’t leave a tip.
The French word for a top, pourboire, literally means “for a drink,” a little something for the worker to put towards an after work drink. Servers in all industries are paid a fair wage in France, and no one is living off their tips alone. I worked in a pizza shop for a few years as a delivery boy and server and never went home with any tips, but I had a real, respectable salary so it seemed kind of silly to expect anything on top of that.
As tour guides, however, we’re not going to tell you not to tip your guide – of course we all appreciate a little extra! Touring is not a stable gig like working in a café, so while we don’t depend on them, most tour guides in any company will willingly accept them, and some businesses actively encourage it. This has been our experience in all of the tour companies that we have worked for over the years.
We don’t think a tip is required, but we’d never turn it down. There is no set rule though on it, so it’s really up to you. For us, it’s more of a sign that we’re doing something right. If someone gives us a tip after a tour, we beam, not because we can put it towards some wine, but because it means you appreciated your tour. The wine is just a fringe benefit.
If someone doesn’t give us a tip, we aren’t offended, but we second-guess ourselves. Was the tour OK? Did it live up to their expectations? Did we do something wrong?
So when you’re in Paris and on a tour – whoever the guide or company may be – have a little extra in your pocket (5-10% depending on the tour cost is probably largely sufficient) just in case. We are very transparent about our tour pricing, so the tip is up to you. It’s an easy way to let your guide know that you appreciated the tour, but even if you don’t have any bills on you, be sure to let them know with your words!
For more on tipping, read a guide Bryan penned for Eurocheapo.com, a great resource for saving money when traveling!