I punctuate my museum-going with a little
café sitting. This makes particularly good sense in Paris: home of so much beautiful
art, and the ultimate café culture. With over 12,000 cafés,
there’s always one nearby. Cafés are where friends rendezvous…and
we’re meeting up with Steve Smith, co-author of my France guidebook and a
consummate café sitter. Rick: You know café, that’s a tip in itself
isn’t it? Just café in Paris. Steve: It’s a good tip. It’s a place to
order what you want, when you want, on your own terms, in your own time really. You could
be indoors at a restaurant watching the person next to you eat or out here watching the conveyor
belt of Parisians go by. And you’re living with Parisians. In fact it’s their living
room. You know most Parisians’ apartments are a little bit bigger than your hotel room.
Rick: Half the locals here are probably living down the street.
Steve: Almost all of them who come here come on a regular basis and they’re on first
name basis with their waiter. Rick: So a lot of Americans find tipping a
little bit confusing. Steve: In France the waiter’s tip is included…15%
of your bill goes to the waiter. You’ve already paid him. Tax and tip are included.
Rick: What do you do then? Steve: If your waiter was nice to you, or
your waitress, leave a couple of Euros. That’s very polite, round up. If your bill was
18 Euros leave 20, something like that. Rick: Now, a lot of Americans are frustrated
by what they call slow service. Steve: Yeah. I hear that all the time.
In France, slow service is good service. Rick: It’s good service!
Steve: Remember, it’s not about how fast you eat. It’s about how well you eat.