To tip or not to tip?
Picture the scene:
You're out in a restaurant. You've had a steaming bowl of onion soup with giant, floating lumps of Comté, you've had a magret de canard (duck breast) and you're finishing up with a café gourmand. This has all been washed down with a gentle bottle of Brouilly. Your cheeks are just starting to feel flushed. The service has been good all evening. Your date has gone really well. The moment comes when the bill is put down in front of you. For a moment, your stomach does a somersault. Oh no, it's ok, it's fairly reasonable. Oh, but wait no, second stomach flip, do you tip?
*cue inner monologue* You don't want your companion to think you're stingy. Nor do you particularly want to be black-listed by the restaurant and forever be refused a table because, well, because of a couple of euros....... Ok, so you should tip...?
No. Actually service charge is always included in restaurants in France, even if it doesn't say so directly on the check. Unlike in the US, the price you see on the menu and what appears on your bill at the end is the price including sales tax and including service. If you're really looking out for it, you might see "service compris" written in small print somewhere.
This is because over here in France, it's all calculated differently. Everything has to go through the till for tax reasons. The amount your waiter took home actually used to be a certain percentage of the customer's total spend during their shift (calculated by the boss when tallying up the wages.)
That's changed in more recent times and now it's more common that the waiter/waitress gets a higher, fixed wage, to which they're not supposed to add tips.
Some of the old-style restaurants, such as Lasserre, and the brasserie, l'Alsace, and even Pizza Pino, work on percentages but the majority favour the newer system.
In either system, you shouldn't worry that your server is on the most pitiful minimal wage and that they barely manage to sleep or eat. Admittedly, they might appreciate your generousity but you should in no way feel obliged to leave something. If you do, do you know what it's called in French, a tip? Le pour-boire. Literally the 'for a drink.'