Apr 022012
 
Coffee and euros

Coffee and euros

Tipping in France is something that’s drastically different than in the US. Of course, if you pay no attention to this note, then you’ll be fine anyway. Everyone in France will love the American that tips generously for apparently no reason. French people, however, do not tip in normal situations.

  • What’s the appropriate amount to tip your waiter at a cafe? Nothing.
  • What’s the correct sum when having lunch at a restaurant with 7 of your friends? 0 euros.
  • How much should you tip the pizza delivery guy when he shows up at your door? 0 euros.

In France the gratuity is included in the bill, no matter what the waiter says. Even if you were to actually tip in France, the expected amount is ridiculously small. For example, I talked with the pizza delivery guy and he told me that when he does get a tip, it’s because people don’t take the change that’s left over from the euro. For example, if the pizza costs 11.32 euros, the pizza guy gets 12 euros and keeps the change, so he gets a 68 cent tip.

Tipping in France
Desired US
Tip Percentage
Customary France
Tip Amount
5% 0 euros
10% 0 euros
15% 0 euros
20% 0 euros
25% < 1 euro
30% 1 euro
35% 1 euro
40% > 1 euro

When going out to lunch with my coworkers, which has happened about 5 times now. They have never ever, not even once, left a tip.

To make things more clear, here is a simple to use table which you can use to convert a customary tip in the US into a customary tip in France. The left side displays the tip percentage in the States (a percentage) and the right side displays the tip amount in France (in Euros).

You may be thinking, “how will the waiter know I liked him?” or “this is what makes French waiters terrible!” or “Well I’m going to tip him anyway.” Well that’s just fine, please fell free to send me your money also. I did provide this page to you after all and I think I deserve some recognition! Seriously though, the best way to make a french waiter happy is by leaving a very small tip, and the best way to make any french person in general happy is by trying to and learning to speak french.

Feb 212012
 
Image by kangshutters

Image by kangshutters

We recently made our big move to Aix-en-Provence France which included a 9 hour overseas flight to Frankfurt Germany followed by a 6 hour layover and another 1 hour flight to Marseille France. I have flown with the kids before but I learned a few additional things this time around…

Don’t expect that they will sleep on the plane.

  • Even if the flight occurs during their normal sleeping time and they are super tired they will still stay awake. You can make it a little easier for them by holding or nursing them but then they may need you to continue so that they can stay asleep. Also, if your small kiddo is used to sleeping in a bed then try to request the bulkhead seats. The airline has a bassinet that they can attach in front of you so that your little one can sleep. This made a big difference to our 14 month old who is used to putting himself to sleep in his crib every night.

No matter how many activities you bring on the plane they will want to watch videos instead.

  • So save your back and only bring a couple of things on the plane for your kids to do. The videos on my ipad were a big hit with our 3 year old and our 14 month old slept most of the time after I was able to get him to sleep in the first place (see above).

Bring lots of snacks from home because they won’t eat anything that is served on the plane.

  • We brought an entire bag of snacks from home and they were a lifesaver. Cheddar bunnies and yogurt melts were a big hit as were granola bars. We also continued to feed them these things after we arrived in Aix since Aaron and I survived on paninis for a couple of days and the kids didn’t like them.

If you are flying with another adult have one board early with the bags and the other board later with the kids.

  • Every airline that we have flown on allows people with children to board early. Take advantage of that and have one parent board with as much stuff as they can carry onto the plane. They can set up the carseat if you are bringing one and put all of the bags away in the overhead compartments without kids underfoot. Meanwhile the other parent can stay outside the plane until final boarding and let the kids run around a little more. The less time that the kids are on the plane, the better!

Keep your expectations in check because they are kids.

  • It’s tough to fly with kids and 9 hours is a long time. They will cry and they will have trouble but try to enjoy the experience as much as you can. The more that you keep your emotions in check the easier it will be to handle the inevitable meltdowns, whining and bickering that will happen during the flight. Happy flying!
Apr 302011
 

For some reason, renewing an old passport seems to require just as much paperwork as getting your passport for the first time. The only thing that may simplify things is that it may be possible to do it by mail. All of the necessary forms and addresses for renewing or getting a US passport for the first time are provided at the http://travel.state.gov/ website at http://travel.state.gov/passport/renew/renew_833.html.

Below are some common questions and answers about passports and travel in genral.

Do I need a passport?

Yes. Pretty much wherever you’re from you’ll need a passport. Even people in the European Union should carry their passport when traveling for purposes of identification. Children and infants do need passports as well. Yes, you do need a passport when traveling to Canada or Mexico.

How long does it take to get a passport?

About 6 weeks according to the US travel site referenced above. Getting your passport early is a good idea as expedited requests still take a long time (3 weeks) and they cost extra.