How much should I tip in restaurants and cafes ?

One of the most confusing things for visitors to Paris is figuring out the tip system. Unlike the US where tips are expected (and considered part of the wages paid), in France by law a 15% service compris is always included in the price wherever you eat or drink. No matter what anyone says, a service charge is always included. Guidebooks often underscore this fact, reminding you that the service is included. But also they add that it’s okay to leave extra.

But Paris has many international visitors, and it’s pretty common to leave something after a bite to eat or drink (leaving a few coins, or some bills, is called the pourboire, which roughly means “for something to drink.”) But it’s never expected and is only given for good or attentive service, or at a place you habituate frequently.

Other circumstances where a tip is common: In restaurants if you have a baby or children that require special attention, if you don’t speak the language and the server is particularly patient and helpful, or if you stand up and spill red wine all over the place and broken a couple of glasses as well. (Not that I’ve ever done that…)

Although I have a few Parisian acquaintances that don’t leave anything on principal (reasoning that it is, after all, included), most I know do leave a little something. But if you go to a restaurant and they don’t return with your change when you leave money for the bill, that’s extremely bad form and I always say something. And in those cases, I don’t leave anything.

If you do want to leave something extra, don’t add it to your credit card slip since the waiter probably won’t get it. Instead, leave the coins in the tray where the check was presented or on the table.

 

What is the proper dress code  in Paris?

In  the US jeans, sneakers, shorts or crop pants are acceptable but I am not sure if it is also acceptable in France and specially in Paris, capital of glamour, style, elegance…While young Parisian women still tend to dress with charm, and men a bit sharper than anywhere else,  there will be so many people dressed in sloppy or very casual clothing on the streets…  

Tourists from the UK are known for wearing sandals with white socks on!! Of course not all the British who come to visit wear this on vacation, that’s an example of « stereotypical touristy garment ». Khaki pants (or worse, khaki wide leg capris!), big white sneakers and white socks are the stereotypical non-city dwelling American tourist outfit, add brown socks with sandals if they’re German or Russian.

My survey of the typical European tourist outfit of 2010 is capri pants for men, sometimes brick red. Some sort of branded Tshirt, smaller sneakers – not the big aerobic or basketball style – often in bright colors, and some sort of Quechua bag. Wrong! Any backpack will make you look like a tourist as well as an encouragement to pickpockets and Paris has unfortunately too many of them! Eventhough Paris is not rome, always keep your valuables where you can keep a grip on them, you don’t want to spend the rest of you vacation in your consulate lining to get a new passport and a credit card!

Paris is still a bit more formal. At night, every man will be wearing a jacket and, and sometimes a tie to go to a fancy restaurant or see a play in a theatre. A little black dress for the ladies will be the way to feel as Parisian as Catherine Deneuve! Lunch is likely to be less formal than dinner, although there may be more businessmen at lunch.There are two questions here. Is he likely to be the only one without a tie and jacket and will he be treated poorly for that. The first is more likely than the second. 

 

When in Paris, dress a little more upscale than normal for two reasons:

1) You get better treatment from the locals if you look nice (this of course applies world wide)!

2) You want to look good in your travel photos!

 

What benefits does the Museum Pass offer?

Whether it is the Arc de Triomphe, Versailles castle, Louvre, Rodin Museum, the grave of Napoléon 1st in the Invalides or my favorite secret place in Paris, the Nissim de Camondo Museum, with the Paris Museum Pass, you gain free entry, without queuing and as many times as you wish, to 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris! The more you visit, the more you save. So, why wait? Set off on a discovery of one of the most amazing heritages in the world!

Three options to choose from: 2, 4 or 6 days from 39€ to 69€.
Free and direct access to monuments and the museums’ permanent collections.
Unlimited number of visits.

How to make the best of your Paris Museum Pass?

Writing the date of your first visit on the back  activates the pass for the entire duration (2, 4 or 6 consecutive days).I advise you not to write any dates until you are sure about your starting date.
I also recommend activating your pass in the morning of the first day in order to make the most of your day.
Last, remember to organize your touring schedule according to the opening days of the museums and monuments. For instance, Orsay Museum is closed on Mondays and the Louvre as most of the national establishments is closed on Tuesdays.

Note that the Museum Pass doesn’t include access to temporary exhibitions or conference visits.
Most museums are free for the under 18s and EU residents under 26s.

Buy it on line:

http://en.parismuseumpass.com/

or at the airport, in any tourism office in town, at the train stations and in the various museums.

And of course join one of my tours before. I will be happy to advice you the best hours to get in , the best access to beat the crowd and the pieces you should not miss!

 

Do I get a tax refund when shopping in Paris?

When shopping in Paris or anywhere else in France, you are eligible to a tax refund on your purchases if you are not a citizen of the Europeen community. As soosn as you reach a minimum of 170€ in one strore do not forget to ask for it. You must have a valid passeport with you and your credit card. Most of the stores will use CASH BACK. A very easy way. Have the form filled by the retailer and when leaving the country or the last country in the Europeen community go to the export desk to get the form stamped. Have the goods with you, the customs might want to see them. Then place the stamped form in the provided enveloppe and a mail it. A mail box is always next to the customs desk and the enveloppe is pre-stamped; That’s it and after a couple of week an automatic refund of 12% will be credited on your account. Easy!