Sitting at a cafe terrace in Paris, and watching people passing by while sipping on your Perrier water is not something you want to miss. But when the check comes you might ask yourself the question: should I tip, and how much?
Well, I was pleased to learn that the check is all inclusive
Unlike in America, cafes and restaurants in Paris directly include a 15% service charge in your check. This is required by French law as tips are assessed for taxation purposes.
The 15% service charge is clearly itemized on your check, on top of the VAT tax (a French version of the sales tax). The words ?Service compris? (Tip included) indicate that the tip has already been included in the total to be paid.
The good news is that prices rated on the menus are all-inclusive: they include both the 15% tip and the sales tax. There is no last-minute unholy surprise when you are given your check. What you saw on the menu is what you get charged, no hidden extras.
No further tipping?
Of course, a small extra-tip will be well received. It is a way to show you liked how your waiter took care of you. This is not an obligation though.
Small extra tips are also welcome because they go directly into your waiter's pocket. Oftentimes the 15% service charge goes to a common pot which is divided at the end of the day amongst all waiters. Some bar owners may also retain a portion or the entirety of the service charge: French law does not require that service charges be given back to waiters. So your waiter might not even see a dime of it.
In any case, you are under no obligation to extra tip. You paid your dues when you paid your check.
How much should the extra tip be?
Extra tips may range from just a couple of Euro dimes for a coffee or a soft drink, to 1-5 euros for a lunch or dinner. A nice "Thank You" is 5 to 10% of the total check. But once again, there is no obligation, and no steadfast rule as far as the percentage goes.
So, in Paris you can spend your time leisurely sitting at the sidewalk cafe people watching for as long as you'd like. No rush and no tip!
How did you find the tipping situation when you were in France?
Repost from I'm Just Sayin 5/21/10