Maîtres mots

  • Il y a longtemps que notre pays est beau mais rude.

       --Newspaper editor Olivier Séguret, 25 January 2012

    The USA are entirely the creation of the accursed race, the French.

       --Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), writing to Nancy Mitford, 22 May 1957

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French Freedom of Speech

Today the cheminots are:

  • "À nous de vous faire préférer le train!"
    "Voyager autrement"
    "Avec le SNCF, tout est possible"
      --Former ad slogans of the SNCF (French national trains), each in turn quickly dropped

Fun French words

  • ouistiti

    (literally: marmoset)
    Etymology: onomatopoeia from the sound a marmoset makes. Actual meaning: this is what you say in France when you want people to smile for the camera.

    Selon une étude réalisée par le fabricant d’appareils photo Nikon, le « ouistiti » utilisé en France au moment de se faire prendre en photo est le petit mot le plus efficace pour s’assurer un joli sourire.

Who's en colère today?

  • Private sector

    First strike in 43 years at an aeronautics company in Toulouse, Latécoère

    Public sector

    The SNCF (toujours eux), regional train employees in the Lyons area guaranteeing unpleasant travel from the 17th-21st December
    Also yet another strike by Sud-Rail, a particularly truculent SNCF union in the south of France, this time five days in January: 6,7, 21, 22 and 23. "We have no choice." Right.

    Marseilles trams on strike until February

Go back to school in Paris!

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Hi Sedulia!
I am French, and I think it is more polite to tip, but only a small amount, and only when I want to mean that I was satisfied with the service...
usually, for a coffee I leave 50 cts €, and in a standard restaurant 3 or 4 euros.
I tip the 'shampooineuse' too at the hairdresser's, don't you?

Hi Nat,

Oh dear-- I don't want to be radin. I always tip at the hairdresser-- actually way too much. They really like me there. []

From what I understand, in the U.S. waiters are taxed on an income which includes their wages + 15% for tips, regardless of whether they get the tips or not, so you're kind of obliged to tip.

In France, it's different, service is included in the prices, so tipping is not "compulsory", it's just a nice gesture [like Nat, I usually leave a small tip from the change].

Americans I know find it difficult not to tip when in France; they feel ashamed, but they shouldn't be. Similarly, I should have felt ashamed when I first moved to the U.S. [I'm French], and would not tip when I found the food or service bad...until I was told by friends that it was "unusual", meaning rude/"radin". Now, I tip 15% when food/service are ok, and more if they're really good.

My french husband has told me to always leave something small at a cafe (50 centimes max) and a few euro at restuarants. I remember once when I was in an office with mainly French people and we had a delivery in the cold rain of January. Instead of giving my tip money (plus the general extra money everyone overpaid) to the delivery boy who really deserved it, they divided up the money among everyone. I was shocked that they were that radin.
I like tipping, when it is a gesture to say that I appreciated the good service. In the States, I find it excessive. I hate being obliged to leave 15-20% for every single meal, regardless of quality or service. I would much rather that it be automatically added on and the waiters be paid a regular wage. Clearly I am becoming too French.

Superfrenchie recently wrote a post about 4 Frenchmen who went to a NYC restaurant which automatically added an (illegal) 18% gratuity to their bill, for fear that, being French, they wouldn't tip (sic!) Amusing story and thread of comments here:

I tip once more, after a period of not tipping. I'll leave something small, like 30 centimes, if I've just had coffee and up to five euros for dinner, and have seen my (french, tipping) boyfriend leave up to 20 in a nice restaurant...

Hello there, nice blog. Cant recall how I found your blog anyway; let me just had my 2 cent to this conversation. Im french as well; and I also tip and sometimes I don't. Tipping for me is ALWAYS related to performance, achievement. I always leave yellow coins when in a bar because they're "just" yellow coins. But at the hairdresser, if I have an extra head massage or if I really like my new hair style, I will leave something for sure. Again at the restaurant tip IS ONLY RELATED to the way they served me, if they deserved it, then they'll get something. If I have waited for too long, if the waiter did not pay us attention or was rude etc then I wont leave anything! Usually when it happens it's funny that the waiter tends to become pleasant only at the very end of the diner!.. Like you said 15% is already included in the price you pay, then anything negative to your eating experience would end up without tipping.. quite an easy and fair rule.

In the USA waiters pay taxes that assume they earn 8% of the meal cost, and some do earn that much in tips, but many don't.

I have about the same education level as most waiters, (High School Diploma), and work just as hard, (landscaping); and think it’s ridiculous that some people think waiters deserve to be paid so much.

If I could earn $50,000 a year without sweating in the hot sun for 8 to 10 hours a day, 5 to 7 days a week I would gladly wait on tables.

Don’t complain when people leave you a $5 tip on a $50 bill, after you said good evening, took their order, checked once to see if they wanted anything else and brought them the bill. US government labor statistics say those who think waiters average 15% are dreaming because they actually seem to earn far less an hour and a year than they would if that was true. There’s a reason why so few waiters have college degrees.

Half the waiters where I live are students who do it part time so they can get a good education and then get a real good paying job. If you want a better job, do what I am trying to do; go back to school and get a job that really does pay well.

What I don't understand is how waiters and waitresses can whine and complain all day that people don't understand that they don't make a living wage in America without tips blah blah but don't move to DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. It's the restaurant owners that are at fault for this...I have never understood why the responsibility for paying restaurant employees should be bared by the dining's ludacris!

I totally agree with the previous bloggers comments. Why do we continue to pay for their wages when it's the employers responsibility. The owners continue to get richer and laughing at us behind our backs as we continue to pay their staff wages while they profit more. Pay them decent wages! I don't have a problem if they even increase the cost of the meals but stop expecting is to subsidize the wages!!!

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Today's quotation

  • In Paris, the purest virtue is the object of the filthiest slander.

      –Honoré Balzac (1799-1850), in Scènes de la vie privée

    À Paris, la vertu la plus pure est l'objet des plus sales calomnies.

Le petit aperçu d'Ailleurs

  • Annual Geminids meteor shower (shooting stars!) coming this weekend, if it's not too cloudy out at night.

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