Holiday Tipping

This is our first holiday season here in France and we have been wondering about local customs for holiday tipping. In particular, we would like to know whether people typically tip their gardener and handyman. If so, what is typically the amount given? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Are you holidaying in the area (if so do you own or are you renting) or the owner of a home you are renting to others?

Never been in a position to have a gardener or handyman. :wink:

I can only speak as someone who lives here full time.

Generally during December it is quite normal for ‘la poste’ ( your local postman/woman) to arrive and ask if you want to select one of their calendars. I usually choose one and a couple of days later give a greetings card with what I am comfortable with inside.

You are also likely to receive a visit from the pompiers with their calendar, do please ‘buy one’ as they do sterling work locally. You give a sum that you are comfortable with, you receive a receipt that you can declare on your tax form.

As the ‘bin men’ only pass every 15 days I don’t generally see them, however in Summer if I am around I give them a few bottles of beer to take back to the depot for when they have finished.

Apart from that the only tip I give is the young apprentice in the hairdresser where I pass once a year.

A couple of friends helped me a lot with removing some large trees from my property, I took them out for a lunchtime meal at our local resto, it didn’t break the bank at 13,50 for a 4 course meal with wine :wink:

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Frankly, I don’t think there is any custom… about holiday tipping… or tipping at all.

Everyone gets paid for what they do.
and even Restaurants include “service charge” in the cost of the meal…

At Christmas, maybe some chocs for a friendly neighbour… or a homemade conserve… but, the exception rather than the rule…

For a Handyman/Gardener… mmm… if you know them well, almost as friends… it might be pleasant to hand over something low-key…a bottle of wine… a few beers… nothing expensive. If you don’t really know them (but just pay the bill)… no need for anything other than a cheery Season’s Greetings…

As Ann has said… the Postman and the Fireman are not allowed to accept tips, but can sell a calendar… :thinking: The football club (and almost any club) will also try and sell their calendar… I often have 4 or 5 calendars on the go each year… :zipper_mouth_face:

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If you are holidaying and renting and the gardener turns up, cuts the grass, and leaves again why would you think a tip should be forthcoming? He (or she) will be paid by the owner to do that job probably at a rate set by themselves.

Similarly a handyman (presumably you would have to point out some deficiency to the owner who would then engage the handyman).

If they, say, take the time to offer some other service - chat about the local area, washes the car, whatever then a tip might be appropriate.

If you own the house and engage a gardener or handyman through the year I would see no need to add extra when they do a job - but if service has been good, the rapport good etc I would certainly offer something at Christmas.

Not sure if that makes me a mean old scrooge.

Étrennes for postman, fireman, and dustmen are pretty traditional. Usually as others have said in “payment” for a calendar, and the profits go to their christmas party. I usually give 10 euros to the fireman, but a neighbour who they saved when she had a heart attack gives a 100 - understandably!

Also concierges, and personal services like nannies and cleaners - but often at a more generous level. When we lived in Paris we were warned to make sure we gave the concierge a generous étrenne if we wanted to make sure our post got in our post box.

But professionals paid for a service don’t fall into this category.

I have a cleaner for times when I’m ill, and I give her a present not cash.

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Around here the cleaners etc get paid using cheque d’emploi and never ever get given cash… even at Christmas…

Mine is a very nice young women, basically earning peanuts, and who sometimes goes above & beyond. Very few of my friends have cleaners, but those people tell me they give at least 50€ cash. (I have no idea how they employ the cleaner - I guess most are cheque d’emploi too). I know cash would actually be of more use to her, but I find that uncomfortable. So I give her a present instead.

But as ever it depends on your own personal circumstances and your relation with the person.

Paul, étrenne are not the same as a tip. Different custom/tradition. And specific to new year.


If I ever get a gardener or handyman I will remember :slight_smile:

Surely it’s just the posh name given to a tip given at the end of the year.

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I understand what you are saying… but rule of thumb is not to give cash…the Tax Man frowns on such things… :zipper_mouth_face:

Does he actually frown on a cash gift or rather that people tend to forget to include it in their annual return

If you like. It’s the same as a christmas box I suppose, and I imagine it will fall out of use in the same way. I think of tips as being more general.

It would be a bit sad if the variety and breadth of descriptive words all vanished.

The French Tax Man does not like the idea of “unaccounted-for” funds going into someone’s pocket…

Someone accepting cash can find themselves in hot water … if the Tax Man gets a sniff… he will turn their world upside down.

Hence the calendars… which are sold at Christmas… you don’t have to “buy” one if you don’t want to… but all cash is accounted for.

Neither does the English one and he can be equally determined to get his share.

I’m sure quite a bit of work done on the noir is never declared.

In France, that is becoming more and more precarious… both for the person who pays… and for the person who accepts… (on the black).

I did post a link, which showed the fines and possible prison sentences to which folk might be subject… scary stuff…

I would have thought the UK are equally stern …


The difference in the UK is that if I engage someone to do some work and they do not declare what I pay them I am not even in for a slap on the wrist.

It is entirely the individual’s responsibility to declare thair income correctly.

People are much more wary these days. Instead of buying Christmas and birthday presents for a friend I’ve contributed a bit towards a piano she has bought. She asked me if I could write my cheque out to the shop selling the piano as she didn’t want an ‘unexplained’ payment appearing in her bank account.