I have mentioned several times that I enjoyed meeting Richard Nahem in Paris on my last trip there. Richard is a New Yorker who moved to Paris years ago when he went to visit and fell in love with the life there. He offers personal tour guide service and we enjoyed two days with him, as well as a cooking class he had arranged for us. His Blog, I Prefer Paris, is a must read for anyone planning to travel there. In fact, it was in reading through his blog that I realized how wonderful he would be as a guide. He notices the details most people miss, and his way of explaining things makes the city come alive.
He recently posted a bit about Tipping….customs are so different around the world. You want to know what is the norm when you travel and not be taken advantage of. I will let Richard explain:
My partner Vincent had an unnerving incident happen at a restaurant that prompted me to write this post.
Vincent was at Cafe Ruc, a popular and fashionable restaurant/cafe right near the Louvre that attracts Parisians and tourists. He was dining with an American friend, and although they ordered in French, they spoke English during their dinner. When they asked the waitress for the check, she evidently overheard them discussing whether or not to leave her an additional “tip” beyond the 15% service charge already included in the bill. The waitress immediately–and a bit smugly–piped in,”you know, the tip is not included”. His friend challenged her and said that it was French law that the tip was included. She sheepishly backed down and said that they didn’t have to leave anything.
So here is the the simple truth about tipping in Paris and the rest of France: A 15% service is ALWAYS included in your bill, regardless of what the waiter or anyone else says. Again, it’s a French law that the service is included. If they say it’s not included, they are lying and trying to rip you off. If you are charging a meal, notice there is no tip box on the credit card receipt. It’s because the service is included.
With that said, it is customary to leave a 3 to 5% tip in cash on the table. For instance, if you have a lunch costing 20 euros, you should leave a one euro or 75 centimes gratuity. For a coffee, leave 25 centimes.
Many of my tour clients take my tour at the end of their stay and it kills me when they said they have been leaving 15 & 20 % tips all week long. I tell them they could have bought an Hermes scarf or a half pair of Louboutin shoes with that money. ( I like to think in practical shopping terms).
So now you know how to be a savvy local and show the Parisians you are not a dumb American tourist.