Giving little or no tip has become an increasingly popular trend among the French – a bi-product of the economic downturn or just pocket savvy social evolution. Nevertheless, it’s felt in the pockets of the revered serveur(se) who are usually highly trained compared to their British counterparts. Many waiters and waitresses spend years learning about the restauration industry gaining a professional BAC, or other qualifications.
It seems for foreigners the trend has not yet caught on. The British, and Americans even more so, are renowned for being big tippers, but you could come off looking like a foolish tourist leaving a hefty 25% on top of your bill.
Bryony Hopkins, 18-year-old British ex-pat training to become a waitress in La Rochelle, said: “The French tip very very rarely, actually hardly ever. The Dutch and English are the biggest tippers!”
Waiting staff in France, by law receive a monthly salary or hourly wage which includes
service, usually slightly above the minimum wage so they don’t rely on tips to supplement their income. The current minimum wage (SMIC) is a healthy €9.61 therefore the French feel under no pressure to pay gratuity but tourists, and ex-pats, with a big tipping culture in their home countries, feel they are expected to.
The majority of the French public asked in Mangetout’s straw poll claimed they leave less than €5 for a meal, only ever leaving more for outstanding service, or when dining in a large group or with children, and rarely tip for a coffee. It has become socially acceptable to be brutal when evaluating service, “if you didn’t like the service or their attitude, don’t feel guilty to not tip.” – Juliette Daga, 23, digital marketer.
However, you can go t
oo far – Juliette continued: “Don’t push the issue by giving them all your 1 and 2 centimes, it is almost disrespectful!”
The ideology in France is that it is a gesture not an obligation, it’s common to leave a small token: “[I leave] 1 or 2 euros when I’m in a good mood. But never less than €1. It’s symbolical!” said Anais Idiri, 21, Student.
However there are exceptions to the French tipping rules. If you are inner-city, particularly in the capital or in popular tourist spots, you are more likely to be expected to give extra. In agricultural areas the rules are different, Sandrine Botelle, 45, Housekeeper said, “in the Charente – [leave] nothing!” The young are also not expected to tip because it is assumed that they are have little spare money.
If you do want to tip your waiter, don’t add it onto your bill when you pay. Instead, leave it on the table where the waiter will find it and it won’t just fatten the owners’ wallet.
In short, if you’re in any doubt, do as the French do by leaving no less than 1 euro in coins over 50 centimes and finally, don’t be embarrassed about it!