The first thing you have to know about tipping in France is that customers do a lot less of it than in the United States.
That’s not because Americans are more generous—it’s because gratuities for waiters, cab drivers, and bartenders in the U.S. make up a substantial chunk of those employees’ wages. Service workers in France, on the other hand, are better compensated to begin with, so they don’t have to count on patrons to make up for stingy bosses.
Consequently, a tip is purely a nod of appreciation.
In RestaurantsIn French cafes, bars, and restaurants, wait staff usually get an automatic percentage of the total bill as part of a service charge. By law, this fee must be mentioned on the final bill using the term “service compris”—service included.
On top of that, you should leave €1 or €2 for your waiter, depending on how well you were treated. In ultra-fancy Parisian restaurants, increase that range to €5–€10.
Tip €1 for coat check.
To thank your bartender, leave €1 per drink or round up your total to the nearest euro after each round.
Tip with cash and coins rather than your credit card.
For hauling your luggage to your room, reward bellhops €1 per bag (€2 for enormous suitcases or oversized vintage Louis Vuitton trunks—sounds like you can afford a slightly larger tip anyway).
Housekeeping staff should get the same amount—€1 per day—for keeping your room neat and tidy. Up the amount to €2 if you’re dazzled by the cleanliness.
Tipping the doorman €1 for taxi-hailing is good manners but optional.
If a concierge comes through with impossible-to-get dinner reservations or detailed, inside intel on, say, how to go about reenacting Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, show your gratitude with something in the neighborhood of €10.
In TaxisRounding up the fare to the next euro usually suffices for a tip amount, but if that seems paltry, go ahead and leave 5–10% on top of the fare.
In TheatersFinally, here’s one where Americans are actually less tip-happy than the French. Contrary to the custom at U.S. performance venues, ushers in Paris and other cities in France expect a tip of €2 for showing you to your seat.
You can take that amount from the extra 20% you're not having to shill out for every single restaurant meal.