About Secrets of Paris

American-born travel journalist and guidebook author Heather Stimmler-Hall created the Secrets of Paris in 1999 to share the hidden side of the City of Light. Discover what you've been missing:

* Custom Travel Content 
* Free Paris Resource Guide
* Calendar of interesting Paris events
* Private Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here


Calendar of Paris Events

October 8-12
The theme for the 81st annual Fête des Vendanges, the grape harvest festival, is Montmartre Fête les Poètes. Events include a parade, grape stomping, the food & wine tasting village, cooking demos, live music, and tons of other fun stuff. Check out the entire program, the online boutique (get your commemorative bottles of wine!) and other info about the festival here.

October 12 
Stock up on fall reading material for a handful of euros and support the English-language SOS Helpline at their Autumn Book Sale today from noon-4pm at Orrick Law Offices (31 ave Pierre Ière de Serbie, 16th, M° Alma-Marceau). Paperbacks €1, hardcovers €2, all categories for adults and kids, as well as bake sale items. Those who want to donate books can drop them off during the sale.

October 16-17
Blending culture with social, Sinfonietta Paris brings you an evening of Mendelssohn and Brahms exquisitely performed by a brilliant ensemble of young professional musicians. At the Institut FInlandais (Latin Quarter, 60 rue des Ecoles, 5th) from 8-11pm. Tickets €25 (wine and hors d'oeuvres included). The address will be mailed once confirmed; the performance on the 4th December is in the 17th; on the 5th December it's in the 1st. Register on the website; places limited. 

Secrets of Paris gives 10% of all tour fees
to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

Essentials > Money Matters > Tipping

Let's get this straightened out at once:

  • You are not required to tip in restaurants.
  • You are not required to tip waiters/waitresses.
  • A 15% service fee is automatically included in ALL cafés, restaurants, bars, etc. as part of the price of each item (not on top of the total).
  • Servers in France do not live off of tips. They get paid vacations, health care, and living wages.

Having said that, it's always polite to tip when you've received good service (wow, what a novelty). The French usually round up to the nearest euro or two. My rather affluent French friend who eats out for every single meal (he's a bachelor) never tips under €2 or more than €20, even when dining at a Michelin-star restaurant. But if you WANT you can leave more, especially if you've been a particularly demanding client (ie pain in the a**). If you have had rude service, DO NOT TIP! If you ask the server if the tip is included, they will most likely say no. This is because in France a tip is a tip, the service fee of 15% is incorporated into the price of each item, not added to the top of the bill like the VAT. Don't let them guilt you into tipping. Don't guilt yourself into tipping for bad service. It brings down the level of service. And we don't need that in France!

NOTE: The VAT (or TVA en français) has been lowered to 5.5% for food, but remains 19.6% for wine and some luxury foods, both itemized on your bill.

Tipping Elsewhere 

Tip hairdressers, tour guides, theatre ushers, parking valets and concierges (depending on how demanding you've been). In hotels it’s customary to tip luggage handlers, room service (except for breakfast) and to leave something on your pillow for housekeeping (especially if you've been a slob). In some places (like cloak rooms) you may see a sign that says pourboire interdit (tipping forbidden). I never tip a taxi driver more than a euro, usually I round up to make it easier for them to give me change.

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