What to Buy in Paris : French Pharmacy Finds

Perfume shops, chocolate stores, lingerie boutiques, pâtisseries… When I’m in Paris, I can’t resist any of them, especially since the fine-tuned French sense of design extends as much to the products as to the window displays. But I will tell you honestly that if I had to pick my favorite shopping ground, it would be a pharmacy. It’s a treasure trove of finds for anyone who loves scented products and skincare, or simply enjoys searching for affordable and interesting brands.

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Of course, pharmacies are not a Parisian phenomenon. If you travel in Europe, you will quickly notice stores with a neon green cross. Within two blocks of my apartment building in Brussels there are about 5 or 6 pharmacies. It’s more than a store where you get your medicine. It’s the place where you go to complain about your illnesses, the weather and the lack of government (although in my observation, Belgians don’t complain much about the latter; in fact, they can go for months without electing one). You can also buy skin and hair care products, perfume, soaps, vitamins, and an array of bizarre slimming supplements advertised by close ups of perfectly tanned behinds.

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Skincare

If you’re a skincare junkie, you will enter the pharmacy and feel as if you’re in heaven.  Of course, selecting best products is a highly individual decision, as everyone’s skin has different needs and quirks. I can only mention what I personally love for my sensitive combination skin.  The dermatologists usually recommend La Roche-Posay, Avène, Auriga, Bioderma, and Louis Widmer, and these happen to be my favorites. They are reasonably priced (€12 to €30) and are formulated to be non-comedogenic and fragrance free. If you’re not sure which product would suit you best, you can always ask the pharmacist. They generally know their lines well enough to offer helpful advice.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Solution Micellaire (formerly known as Créaline) is an absolute must-have for me. It removes even the most stubborn water-proof makeup, sunscreen, and even perfume easily, and the unscented, gentle formula leaves skin soft and glowing.

I can’t say enough good things about La Roche-Posay products. They have several lines formulated for different skin needs: Toleriane for sensitive skin, Effaclar for problem skin, Cicaplast for flaking, chapped skin, etc. When I first moved to Brussels, my ordinarily well-behaved skin started displaying all of the above. The dermatologist’s advice to use Toleriane cleansing gel, Effaclar K Daily Renovating Treatment (and Louis Widmer Skin Appeal Soin Hydratant moisturizer) improved things within days.

La Roche-Posay’s Redermic is another range that dermatologists frequently recommended. Redermic R contains retinol, while Redermic C includes Vitamin C, important ingredients for rebuilding collagen and minimizing the effects of sun damage. My favorite Vitamin C product is Auriga Flavo C Serum (€32.50), which contains a stable form of Vitamin C. Flavo C has to be stored in a dark, cool place, therefore if you don’t see it on the shelf, you have to ask the pharmacist to fetch it for you. Be warned that it has a strong herbal scent of wet leaves and hay.

Avène is a competitor brand to La Roche-Posay, and many of their products are similar (and similarly good). Professional makeup artists swear by Avène Eau Thermale Water Spray. I use their Eau Thermale Clean-Ac Cream, an oil-free moisturizer, which doesn’t bother my finicky skin. A similar light moisturizer is available from Louis Widmer, a Swiss brand which is slightly more expensive than Avène and La Roche-Posay, but has some elegantly formulated products.

When it comes to sunscreens, I’m once again partial to La Roche-Posay Anthelios range and Louis Widmer moisturizer with sunscreen for the winter. Anthelios is available in a range of SPF protection and formulations suitable for different skin types.

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Other Interesting Beauty Products

Lierac, Garancia, and Caudalie Vichy are other pharmacy mainstays, and you will see large displays of these products. Caudalie Eau de Beauté and Embryolisse Eau de Beauté Rosamélis often end up as editor favorites in French magazines. I haven’t used them, but I’ve spotted these 2-in-1 toner and serum products in professional makeup kits.

Another cult favorite is Nuxe Rêve de Miel Honey Lip Balm, a delicately scented balm that leaves lips soft and plump.

Those who love unscented body lotions and creams will find many great choices at the pharmacy. For flaky skin, Biotherm Anti-Drying Body Milk and La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP Lipid Replenishing Body Balm are perfect, and Avène likewise has several excellent options.

The pharmacy is also where you find orange blossom and rose water. Occasionally, you may even see unusual floral waters and hydrosols like linden blossom and lavender.

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Scented Soaps

Every time I visit the pharmacy I walk away with another package of Roger & Gallet soaps. Who can resist the beautiful packaging and impressive collection of scents: rose, linden flower, honey and almond, orange blossom, and verbena? The bars are triple milled and hold their shape well. The scent is rich enough to perfume not only your skin, but also your bathroom. I use sandalwood soap to scent my sweater and linen drawers.

Compagnie de Provence Savon Extra pure vegetal soaps also deserve a special mention. Orange blossom and violet are my favorite scents, and the anticipation of using them makes me more of a morning person than I am.

Hair Products

You willso find a selection of interesting hair care brands at the pharmacy, such as René Furterer and Klorane. Many of my French friends love the scent of Klorane Chamomile Shampoo which they remember using as children. Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk is another beauty editors’ favorite product and an ideal travel companion.

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Perfume and Fragrant Oils

My favorite scented pharmacy treat is the oils. I’ve already written about some of the stars such as Caudalie Divine Oil, Klorane Monoi Beauty Oil For Body and Hair, Vichy Nutriextra Extraordinary Oil, Payot Élixir, Les Fermes de Marie Pure Altitude Beauty Oil for Body and Hair, and Roger & Gallet Fleur d’Osmanthus Beauty Oil (for more details and descriptions, please see my Perfumed Oils article).

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse is another classic multi-purpose oil, and if you love its monoi-coconut scent, you should try Nuxe Prodigieux Le Parfum. It’s a sweet tiare fragrance, with a creamy musk finish.

Roger & Gallet offers a wide selection of inexpensive and nice fragrances called Eau Fraîche Parfumée. They are available in many different scents such as orange blossom, osmanthus, lavender, ginger, and the classical citrus cologne. Rose Imaginaire is a bubbly fruity-floral that for once tells the truth about its composition–it doesn’t contain any rose, but instead promises to recreate its scent by using jasmine, violet leaves, mandarin and sandalwood. Hence, the name Imaginary Rose.  At €38.50, it beats the more expensive and considerably cheaper smelling fruity florals from the luxury department store brands.

Another pharmacy must-have for me is Bien-être L’Eau Parfumée des Familles, a light fragrance with citrus, musk and iris that feels comforting and makes the best cologne bath. At €6 for a 250ml bottle, it’s just too good to pass up.

Shopping Notes

Most pharmacies are little neighborhood stores, and they don’t carry the full stock of all the products I mentioned. You can either shop around or ask the pharmacist if they can order your desired items. Usually, they are able to obtain them within 6-24 hours.  Otherwise, you can visit the large pharmacies City Pharma in Saint Germain, Bailly Pharmacie on Rue de Rome in the 8th arrondisement, or the pharmacy located inside Galerie Lafayette.

What to do if you’re dying to try these products, but a trip to Paris is not in the cards? Check Amazon.com and Ebay. European Ebay sites often carry a large selection of the famous pharmacy brands. New York’s New London Pharmacy also has an excellent selection of the brands I mentioned, along with interesting perfume lines like Parfums de Nicolaï.

More on shopping in Paris: Paris Shopping Guide

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Favorite Addresses

Pharmacie Saint Dominique
Address: 88 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris, France
Tel.:+33 147 05 58 54
Transit: Pont de l’Alma

A great neighborhood pharmacy within walking distance to Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides. It has an impressive selection of dried herbs, including black currant leaves (excellent for tea), orris root (available by pre-order) and orange blossom petals. Le Moulin de la Vierge patisserie on the other side of the street is worth a visit for its charming interior and excellent croissants. While you’re in the area, Lemoine is a must-stop for its nougat treats and some of the best cannelés de Bordeaux in Paris, caramelized cakes with a decadent, rum flavored custard interior.

Pharmacie City-Pharma
Address: 26 Rue du Four, 75006 Paris, France
Tel.:+33 146 33 20 81
Nearest Transit Stations: Saint-Germain-des-Prés/Mabillon/Saint-Sulpice

One of the larger pharmacies in Paris, where you can find most of the brands I mentioned. One disadvantage is that it can get very crowded.

Pharmacie Bailly
Address: 15 rue de rome 75008 Paris
Tel. : +33 153 42 10 10
Transit: Saint-Lazare

Another pharmacy with a good selection of brands located near Gare Saint-Lazare.

Pharmacie Monge
Address: 74 rue Monge 75005 Paris
Tel.: +33 143 31 39 44
Nearest Transit Stations: Place Monge/Censier – Daubenton/Jussieu

This area of the Latin Quarter has plenty to recommend itself: the low-key, relaxed atmosphere, serene Jardin des Plantes, Rue Mouffetard Market sprawling on the oldest street in Paris, and much more. Great selection and friendly, helpful staff are the reasons to check out this wonderful pharmacy.

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
Address: 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris, France
Tel.:+33 142 82 34 56
Transit: Chaussée d’Antin – La Fayette

If you’re in a rush and can only make a couple of shopping stops, Galeries Lafayette is a good option. Its beauty floor has everything, from luxury lines to pharmacy brands. Be prepared for the crowds though, especially if you visit during the high season.

Added July 2013: another great discovery.

Pharmacie des Archives
Address: 2 Rue des Archives, 75004
Tel.: +33 142 78 45 56
Transit: Hôtel de Ville, Saint-Paul

A fantastic pharmacy with some of the most competitive prices around. It’s small but well-stocked, and it’s open on Sunday (a rarity in Paris).

Do you have any pharmacy favorites, in France or elsewhere?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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80 Comments

  • Austenfan: This is right up my street. I love those pharmacies. My most used brand is Bioderma. I love their unscented bodylotions, Atoderm crème nourissante and Atoderm Baume PP, and their whole Créaline line is good as are their shampoos.
    I find that cosmetics prices are lower in France than they are in Belgium, so I stock up whenever I am there! February 28, 2013 at 7:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for extra suggestions! I have samples of Atoderm, so I’m trying them now. So far, they are fantastic. The prices in the US and UK on the same products are also so much higher. The pharmacies around me offer a loyalty discount, so if you’re a repeat client, you receive some benefits. That’s how most stores in Belgium operate, and as a result, you carry a huge stack of cards particular to every store. When it comes to the department store brands, I haven’t paid much attention, since I don’t use luxury brands for skincare. I mostly had to switch some of the products I use here, because the water in this region is very hard. February 28, 2013 at 10:59am Reply

      • Austenfan: Much like Holland then ( where cosmetics tend to be even more expensive than in Belgium).
        It’s funny you mention the skin issues. I had a similar problem after a move, years ago. It took me months to get rid of all sorts of rashes and the like. I often think that it is not our eyes that are the reflection of our soul, but our skin.

        On a practical note, rummaging through my treasure trove of skin products, I have some excellent body lotion by Uriage another one of those great skincare brands.
        And I found a pot of beurre de karité with huile d’argan, fragranced fleur d’oranger. It’s amazing how much happiness a small pot of skincare can contain! It’s made by Prim’Nature. February 28, 2013 at 1:05pm Reply

        • Victoria: For me, it’s definitely the case. The times I’ve made big moves in my life my skin and hair reacted very badly. It must be the water, the change in the environment and the stress in general.

          I just realized that Uriage body lotion is the product my mom keeps talking about as a miracle worker for her dry skin. I haven’t tried it, but just today on my home I spotted this line at another local pharmacy. It’s now on my list of things to try. February 28, 2013 at 3:04pm Reply

          • Austenfan: The one I have is the Xémose. February 28, 2013 at 5:23pm Reply

            • Victoria: By the way, I passed by the same pharmacy, and I realized that I mistook the label of another brand for Uriage. So far, I haven’t seen it at any other place in Belgium, and I will have to look for it in Paris.

              But I bought body lotion and body gel from Avene’s Cold Cream range, and they are fantastic and ultra-moisturizing. March 1, 2013 at 1:26pm Reply

              • Austenfan: Avène is very good as well. I have two different kinds of eye creams from them and a great face cream, that I can’t remember the name of.

                Uriage has some great washes as well. I have the cold cream one and another one. Very gentle and with a light and pleasing fragrance.

                With the amount of stuff I have I could almost start my own Pharmacie! March 2, 2013 at 8:40am Reply

        • Victoria: P.S. And I forgot to mention that another thing I’ve added on more regular basis to my skincare is oil–argan or borage (thanks to your recommendation). I use it once-twice a week at night. I use coconut and almond oils as well, but not on my face. February 28, 2013 at 5:24pm Reply

          • Austenfan: I need to get some fresh borage oil, mine has gone off. It is so very good, very mild and all that.

            As I mentioned in a reply to Anikky a few replies further down, I have been having skin problems the past few months. It’s the cold, so I am very careful at the moment about what I put on my skin.

            I have used coconut oil on my face in the past as a mask and it was absolutely fine. I love how it doesn’t smell. February 28, 2013 at 5:32pm Reply

            • Victoria: I hope that your skin behaves better soon. It’s been cold and very dry. We also had to buy a small humidifier, and it makes things much better. February 28, 2013 at 5:54pm Reply

  • Zazie: I often turn to “pharmacy products” for effective and reasonably priced offerings.
    And the quantity of samples you receive is just amazing – they almost add up for full-sized products!
    I join you on Bioderma Sensibio H2O Solution Micellaire: one of my daily Staples (but it doesn’t work with my waterproof mascaras).

    My favorite Pharmacy product is Caudalie’s eau de Beauté, both my husband and I are addicted to its smell: we spray it on the pillows and bed sheets every evening, on our face when we feel fatigued (it is so cooling and refreshing!), in hotel rooms to dispel unpleasant smells…you name it!
    I also like Caudalie’s crushed cabernet scrub.

    Another favorite of mine is Decleor’s baume de nuit apaisant rose d’orient: it really made miracles for my skin, swears the skincare cynic! Also the Neroli baume and the aromessence lines are very nice.

    But my favorite (niche) Pharmacy line is Pure Altitude (formerly known as “fermes de marie”). Absolutely luxurious. So, so wonderful, but a pain to find. Try the scrubs, for a place to start… February 28, 2013 at 9:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, yes, the samples are the best part. I bought a small tube of hand cream, and I received 5 samples of other products. Of course, it depends on a pharmacy and its pharmacist. Some are more generous than others.

      The scent of Eau de Beaute is so good, and their other products are perfect for pampering. February 28, 2013 at 11:04am Reply

  • Nicola: How I much do I love French pharmacies? Let me count the ways – oh hang on Victoria has kindly done it for me! There is a small crowded one in Lille opposite Cafe Meert (yum yum and triple yum) but it stocked pretty much all you have listed above on shelves going up nearly to the ceiling! There was a security man standing guard at the door! I am a big fan of the Bioderma Micellar water for sensitive skin and have been bemoaning its absence from the UK – no more – I have just found out that John Bell of Croyden has started stocking it, thank heaven (though not in the fabulously cheap mega sizes/packs). Great article. February 28, 2013 at 9:07am Reply

    • Victoria: :) So glad to see many pharmacy fans! I still can’t pass up any store with a green cross sign without at least glancing at their window displays. Plus, every pharmacy has slightly different products. Very tempting! February 28, 2013 at 11:06am Reply

  • Renee: We have a lot of pharmacies where I live and they are indeed full of goodies:all the french brands that you have mentioned and also some local ones,such as Gerovital by Ana Aslan and Ivatherm.Gerovital is an old brand,a very famous one here,and their latest creme line is Gerovital Plant,which containes bio extract of edelweiss and some other plants(mallow,rattle,thyme).They are very good for my sensitive and dehydrated skin.
    We also had,so far,the Nuxe brand,but now I could not find it anymore and I miss my Nuxe Merveillance serum. February 28, 2013 at 9:09am Reply

    • Victoria: When my mom travels to Ukraine, she also find interesting pharmacy products. One of our favorites is a rose-apple body butter made by a Crimean company. It smells exactly like fresh tea roses. February 28, 2013 at 11:08am Reply

  • Ines: That’s one of the things I love in Paris. :) I always end up with quite a lot of products that come from a pharmacie when going back (which is probably not what one would guess when thinking about shopping in Paris).
    But I’m a huge cosmetics fan and some of these products aren’t available here (Embryolisse) and those that are are generally more expensive here. February 28, 2013 at 9:09am Reply

    • Victoria: I always read the ingredient labels, and that’s another thing I love about shopping at the pharmacy–the labels are very prominent. At the department store, you always have to ask to see the packaging. After the Lancome specialist sold me some alcohol laden products while claiming that they are alcohol free, I no longer take SA’s word for granted. February 28, 2013 at 11:13am Reply

  • kjanicki: If you can’t get to France but you can get to Canada, we have most of those brands here too. La Roche-Posay, Avène, Klorane and Biotherm you can get at our most popular pharmacy, and Roget & Gallet at The Bay department store. I love La Roche-Posay Effaclar products myself. February 28, 2013 at 9:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Krista! I believe that some of these brands are available in the US too, but the prices are much higher. Plus, I’ve noticed that some products are formulated differently from different markets. February 28, 2013 at 11:14am Reply

  • Anne: When I was leaving abroad, this is the thing I miss the most about France, our Pharmacies!!!!!!!! Like in a library, I can spend hours browsing through the beauty section. For Hair products I would recommend also Phyto, and their Subtil Elixir, which is a treatment oil that you put onto hair 30 mins before washing. The result, is endless nutrition and amazing shine! February 28, 2013 at 9:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Like a library–yes, it does feel that way to me too. :) February 28, 2013 at 11:15am Reply

  • Bela: Wonderful post! I adore pharmacies. I was brought up surrounded by them and they are the one thing I miss most in London, where there are only a handful of stores carrying a small portion of the products you mention, V. I have one not to far from where I live (Hillcrest Pharmacy in Holland Park), but the prices are outrageous. ‘If you travel in Europe…’, you say; you need to specify ‘Continental’ Europe: our little island is still not part of Europe in this respect.

    Of course, a lot of the products can also be found in stand-alone parapharmacies dotted around French cities or those in department stores like Monoprix.

    Btw, be careful with Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm: it goes off very quickly. February 28, 2013 at 9:50am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for the advice. When I was trying to buy 2 jars of Nuxe Rêve de Miel, even the pharmacist mentioned that I shouldn’t stock up. It’s a delicate product and can turn rancid quickly.

      I especially love the pharmacies carrying the dried herbs. The one in the 7th arr I mentioned even had myrrh and sandalwood chips at one point. They said that if a herb is medicinal, they can obtain it. February 28, 2013 at 11:18am Reply

  • Susan: I love the Roget & Gallet Bois D’Orange Huile Sublime. Also, the Blue Lotus line is wonderful.
    Another great skin line found in pharmacies is Dr. Hauschka. The rose day cream is excellent for dry skin and the fragrance divine! February 28, 2013 at 10:00am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve heard wonderful things about Dr.Hauschka, but I haven’t tried anything myself. The idea of rose cream sounds great. February 28, 2013 at 11:19am Reply

      • Susan: Has anyone used the Swiss bath line called Fenjal? It used to be widely available in England. My all time favourite, but I can’t find it anywhere now in Canada February 28, 2013 at 1:59pm Reply

        • Victoria: I just checked online, and it seems to be available at Boots. I haven’t seen it here, but then again there are so many brands new to me that I might have missed it. February 28, 2013 at 3:05pm Reply

        • Nicole: OMG, my mum and Nana used to use Fenjal bath creme…one had the ‘blue’ flavour and one had the ‘pink’. This stuff smelled divine, but I haven’t seen it in New Zealand since the 70′s. We also don’t have Badedas anymore…I love the German/Swiss brands. February 28, 2013 at 4:22pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: I have such fun exploring German pharmacies! This summer I picked up linden soap, almond milk and olive oil body lotion, creme deodorant from Switzerland, and a hand cream that smells like ginger and lime. My skin care regimen remains heavily French, though: Lots of Nuxe and Caudalie, with one expensive-yet-delightful Guerlain serum thrown in for good measure. February 28, 2013 at 10:02am Reply

    • Victoria: In Germany, they also carry some interesting baking ingredients like a special lye mix for making pretzels and potash for gingerbread! When I was experimenting with gingerbread over the holiday season, it was my little discovery. (As much as I would love to make pretzels, the idea of using lye at home seems a bit extreme). February 28, 2013 at 11:20am Reply

  • Meghan: Love this post! Have tried and enjoyed a number of these products, which makes me even more keen to try others. February 28, 2013 at 10:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad to hear it! So much fun to talk skin care. :) February 28, 2013 at 3:08pm Reply

  • OperaFan: Well, you’ve hit upon my weak spot! It’s been over 10 years since my last trip to Paris, but I loved staying in little boutique hotels in the Saint Germain district and the Pharmacies were among my first shopping stops after I checked in.
    The nice thing about going to France is you can go there with a minimal selection of personal cosmetics items, knowing that you can immediately acquire very nice French beauty products to use while there, then bring home after.
    My favorite pharmacy brands to buy are Nuxe, Caudalie, and Darphin (Sooo much cheaper than in the US!), but I’ve also bought Renee Furthere and Vichy products. Must look up La Roche Posay, which is available here, even if it does cost more. February 28, 2013 at 10:52am Reply

    • Victoria: I have always viewed Darphin as a high-end luxury line (in terms of price), but here it’s really affordable. I don’t use anything from it now, but I buy creams and serums for my friends back in the US. La Roche-Posay is excellent, and I’ve been a fan of their sunscreens for the past 10 years or so. I alternate with Eucerin, Louis Widmer, Paula’s Choice, since La Roche-Posay sunscreens do contain a bit of alcohol and when my skin feels drier, I like something more emollient. But I can talk sunscreen for hours. It’s one of my favorite forms of skincare (and challenging too, since it’s hard to find something that works perfectly on all fronts). February 28, 2013 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Annikky: Another pharmacy fan here, so thanks for the overview! I do occasionally buy pricier stuff, but I have never gone wrong with Caudalie, La Roche-Posay or Nuxe (although I am not extatic about their famous oil, the texture is somehow too dry for me). If one doesn’t have a huge budget and wants to avoid expensive mistakes, these are excellent brands.

    The pharmacy concept is similar in Estonia, although the choice is not as plentiful. Still, several of the French brands are available, as are Eucerin (absolutely excellent value for money), Weleda, Dr Hauschka and others. February 28, 2013 at 10:58am Reply

    • Austenfan: I am with you on the Eucerin. They have and excellent hand cream with urea. Great for chapped hands. February 28, 2013 at 12:31pm Reply

      • Annikky: My favourite is their Hyaluron Filler Serum Concentrate – gives a boost to the skin and helps with dehydration, really great quality for the price. I learned about it first from Sali Hughes, who gives beauty advice on The Guardian and generally her recommendations work very well for me (I hope it’s OK to mention it, I am nor affiliated with her nor The Guardian. February 28, 2013 at 4:43pm Reply

        • Austenfan: I haven’t tried their facial skin care line yet, I do remember once using one of their eye creams which was very good. I will remember the serum you mention.

          I need to try their anti-redness line, my skin is having great problems coping with the cold this year. I have had all sorts of interesting rashes in the past few months. February 28, 2013 at 5:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Do Estonian pharmacies carry herbs? That’s what I love about pharmacies in Ukraine. They always have a wide selection of herbs and a pharmacist can recommend simple blends like linden blossom or sage if you have sore throat, etc. I recently found a Russian store in Brussels, and they also have a little pharmacy section with herbs and bath treatments. They also carry Estonian lingonberry jams, which are the best. :) February 28, 2013 at 3:22pm Reply

      • Annikky: It depends on the pharmacy, but yes. Some bigger pharmacies can have a pretty impressive selection and they also sell ready-made blends. In addition to linden blossom, peppermint and chamomile there are more interesting things available like yarrow and St John’s wort and coltsfoot and things I can’t even begin to translate :)

        Those Russian stores are a god-send for Estonians living abroad. They carry many things we are used to and sometimes even authentic Estonian stuff that Russians developed a taste for during the Soviet days. Sprats in oil, anyone :)? February 28, 2013 at 4:31pm Reply

        • Victoria: Mmmm…. sprats on a piece of toasted rye bread rubbed with garlic, and the whole thing decorated with a piece of lemon is my idea of comfort food.

          I also love séppik bread, which I think is made out of rye, or at least, the kind I can find here is. February 28, 2013 at 5:38pm Reply

  • Dovey: Hi Victoria, I really enjoyed this review! I’ve seen limited amounts of some of these brands in the states, however it must be wonderful to have them all in one place! I’d especially love to try the floral waters you mentioned! February 28, 2013 at 11:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Dovey, do you have Whole Foods nearby? Or another health food store? They usually carry floral waters, and if you find Heritage brand, they have great rose, orange blossom, and even lilac waters (safe for skin care and food). February 28, 2013 at 3:24pm Reply

  • Geneviève: That’s funny because I work in the Old-Québec and I have a lot of tourists who are french and they never ask me about the nearest «pharmacy» but always the nearest «drugstore». So I thought, until I read your article, that in France it was named as in english «drugstore» and we were using an «archaism» in the Province of Quebec, even though I prefer the french word… Thank you for the article!!!! February 28, 2013 at 11:43am Reply

    • Geneviève: I might add that here, in the small town sometimes the pharmacies are the only place nearby where people can buy fragrances sometimes. They carry sometimes Dior, Nina Ricci, Cacharel, and other important brands, as well as Lise Watier which is a brand from Quebec. February 28, 2013 at 12:40pm Reply

      • Victoria: My relatives live in Quebec, and that’s how I first came across Lise Watier. Such a nice brand! February 28, 2013 at 3:25pm Reply

  • Geneviève: Oh, and if it’s interesting someone, Charles Trenet made a song about the pharmacies in French-Canada where he said he bought beef (!) and ice cream but the pills are not really legal to sell! It’s not like that anymore!
    It’s a fun song about your topic Victoria . Here’s the youtube link. !http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioV9HPfBBTk February 28, 2013 at 12:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much! It made me smile. February 28, 2013 at 3:25pm Reply

  • iodine: Here I am, another hardcore fan of French pharmacies! I also love the Parashop shops- no medicaments, only parapahramceutical products- there are a few of them in Milan too, but they never stock such delights as they do in their motherland!
    I’ve recently fallen for the Sanoflore Miel Nourricier range- their lime blossoms honey body balm is absolutely fantastic, both in smell and texture.
    And I also do love the Compagnie de Provence range- I visited their flagship store in Marseille, a couple of years ago and hadn’t enough room in my luggage for their beautiful things. I love their Méditerranée fragrance, so delicately salty, fishy and sunny. February 28, 2013 at 12:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve fallen for Sanoflore’s rose scented lotion, and they have great rosewater too! But I buy them when I go to France, since I haven’t seen this brand here in Belgium.

      And in Italy, the erboristeria is another great place, especially if one loves herbs. The best part is that there are other interesting, local brands that one can’t find anywhere else. February 28, 2013 at 3:27pm Reply

  • behemot: I love pharmacies. Whenever I am in Europe or in Canada, I buy Avene, La Roche and Bioderma. Interesting, but my favorite products seem to be the same as yours! Bioderma water is the best cleanser. In Canada they have all these brands in drugstores, but there is always a trained consultant who can answer your questions. They also carry Biotherm and Vichy. February 28, 2013 at 12:29pm Reply

    • Geneviève: Yes that’s true. We seems to have most of the important brands they have in french pharmacies, in Canada. :) That’s great :) February 28, 2013 at 12:38pm Reply

    • OperaFan: Biotherm is very much underrated brand, and very affordable. I brought back some mens skin care from my 1st solo trip as gifts for the then boyfriend (now DH), and he’s been a devoted user ever since. February 28, 2013 at 2:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Those are the ones that have received a star of approval from my dermatologist, but of course, there are many other great products. There are also excellent products for dry skin, probably even more than for combination-oily, but that’s not something I ever had to explore.

      I also find that getting a recommendation from someone who knows the line is very helpful. La Roche-Posay, for instance, has so many sublines that it’s hard to navigate unless someone explain it. February 28, 2013 at 3:32pm Reply

  • tomate farcie: some of my faves are for lips: Homeoplasmine, Avibon, Dermophil Indien lipbalm. For dry, sensitive skin Gabriel Couzian Lait Creme Reparateur, for a fantastic bar of soap ((I’m sure the gels are great too) Roge Cavailles Savon. I love the brands Sanoflore and Phyt’s for natural products. One that flies under the radar is Collosol Lait, a terrific milky face cleanser. I also love Uriage, the shower gel Creme Lavant is terrific. Another product for dry skin with a big following is the Ducray Ictyane line. February 28, 2013 at 2:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your recommendations! You’ve given me an incentive to try Roge Cavailles Savon, which I’ve seen but haven’t sampled yet. February 28, 2013 at 3:34pm Reply

  • Carla: I just love the esthetics of European pharmacies. I tend to be so critical of my own American culture, but here I go again…our pharmacies are so vulgar in comparison, with the processed food and garish plastic toys on display everywhere. February 28, 2013 at 3:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think that it’s just a different expectation of what a pharmacy/drugstore should carry. Here, it’s definitely more about “health and wellness.” February 28, 2013 at 5:40pm Reply

  • Jessica: Thank you for this virtual shopping trip, V! I love visiting drugstores/pharmacies whenever and wherever I travel.

    Roger & Gallet carnation soaps are some of my favorite soaps, period. So lovely. I do feel fortunate to have access to New York pharmacies that stock plenty of imported toiletries—New London Pharmacy, as you mentioned, as well as Clyde’s on the Upper East Side, Apthorp Pharmacy on the Upper West Side, Avignone in the West Village… I’d like to return to Paris someday, too, but in the meantime I can’t complain about access to fancy skincare and scented products. ;) February 28, 2013 at 9:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: My pleasure, Jessica! I get asked often by friends and family what they should look for in Paris, so I realized that my notes to them keep expanding.

      NYC definitely has so many great options for finding these brands! March 1, 2013 at 1:28pm Reply

  • Andy: I’ve been enjoying the orange blossom scented soap from Compagnie de Provence for a few weeks now. It was a very nice bargain find at Marshalls—now I wish I had picked up the violet scented bar as well!

    As others have commented, I wish our pharmacies here in the US were a bit more like those in Europe, and geared more towards quality skincare and health and wellness. Also, I noticed a mention of orris root in one of your pharmacy recommendations. I was wondering what you use it for, because I know it’s supposed to be exquisitely scented, but I’m not sure how I would use it exactly if I wanted to best enjoy the scent. It is carried by Mountain Rose Herbs (both whole and powdered) so I’ve been thought of adding it to my order before, but didn’t have a use in mind. February 28, 2013 at 11:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: Mountain Rose Herbs is my top favorite place for herbs. I bought iris root from them, when I was making Paula Wolfert’s recipe for ras-el-hanout, a Moroccan spice mix. You can also use it in scented sachets, mixed with rose petals and lavender. March 1, 2013 at 1:29pm Reply

  • Claire: I miss French pharmacies. My husband used to say that he knew where to find me if I wasn’t at our apartment: the pharmacy or the pâtisserie. You hit all of my faves, Victoria, and even more. Another fave that I miss is Yves Rocher bath & body products. They are not available in pharmacies, per se, rather I used to get them from a stand-alone stand in Gare Montparnasse, a few blocks from where we used to live. Sometimes I feel the U.S. version of European products are not quite the same due to different regulations (?).

    In any case, perhaps you should consider extending this topic to the lingerie shops, chocolate shops, and pâtisserie which I’m sure will be as popular. March 1, 2013 at 12:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for mentioning Yves Rocher, Claire. I love discovering their stores all over the city, and yes, the quality is very good, esp given the affordable price. March 1, 2013 at 1:31pm Reply

  • Claudia: I love French pharmacies! I have been using La Roch Posay and Avene for years. They are well-priced products that just work. Lierac is also a line with wonderful products. Their Hydrachrono Baume is a life saver for dehydrated skin. I also love their Huile Sensorielle. Gently but wonderfully fragranced with Gardenia, Jasmin and Camelia. Can be used on your skin, hair and also as a bath oil. Further, I love to use the dry oil spray from Roger & Gallet in Bois d’Orange. A wonderfully subtle warm scent, great for summer! Also their soaps make great gifts. March 1, 2013 at 4:11am Reply

    • Victoria: More great recommendations, thank you! I haven’t explored much of Lierac, so it’s on my list now. March 1, 2013 at 1:31pm Reply

  • Jack Sullivan: French lover of French pharmacies here! Great post, Victoria.
    Can’t live without my Nuxe Baume Rêve de Miel (the only one that really does the job for my chapped lips, or my son’s, in any season) and I never can get enough of Caudalie’s face and body products (the Tisane de Nuit and Pulpe Vitaminée face creams, the Crushed Cabernet body scrub and the body lotion are my bathroom staples). I’ve discovered La Roche-Posay more recently and the Lipikar Baume AP is simply amazing to repair my dry skin in winter. Love also the Respectissime Waterproof mascara and the corresponding Waterproof Make-Up Remover – both are very gentle for sensitive eyes, and great value for money too.
    The Nuxe and its recent subsidiary specialized in organic products, Bio-Beauté by Nuxe, are worth exploring too (I love their organic sunscreen, smells of pina colada… yum!).
    For the hair, I recommend the masks from Klorane and René Fureter. March 1, 2013 at 8:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much. I was curious about Nuxe Bio-Beaute, since it was completely new to me. Sounds like something else worth checking out. March 1, 2013 at 1:35pm Reply

  • maja: Pharmacy fan, too! :) I just love La Roche-Posay and their Posthelios line is the best one if you do exaggerate with sunbathing. Incredible quality. I also love Decleor Aroma Tonic (smells gorgeously green) and Darphin Arovita C cream. Although lately I’ve been trying to put less chemicals on my skin and use oils, especially on my body. What is your experience with Borago oil for facial use, do you think it’s compatible with combination skin? As always, thank you for sharing wonderful pieces of advice. :) March 1, 2013 at 3:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: I do like it very much. My skin is peculiar–it can handle the ingredients that are known to be irritants well (BHA, AHA, retin-A) , but anything too emollient, and I get not really breakouts, but redness. So, it’s always a struggle to find the right moisturizer, since occasionally I do need it. Borage and argan oils, on the other hand, are safe. They leave my skin soft and radiant. The only thing I have to remember is not to use it more than one-twice a week. Try it on your neck or chest first before you put it on your face. March 1, 2013 at 4:01pm Reply

  • Daisy: I adore European pharmacies, and the French ones in particular make my heart go pitter-patter!

    My favorite thing to buy? Toothbrushes. I. Love. The. Toothbrushes.

    And Band-aids (I know Band-Aid is a brand, but it sounds silly to say self-adhesive bandage). For some reason, the best ones are in Europe. The thinnest, most water resistant, blister-protecting band-aids.

    And there is a German toothpaste that I also nab. I can’t remember the name, only the what the packaging looks like! March 11, 2013 at 4:20am Reply

  • Sabrina: I am plannig to visit paris on September . I really found your post very informative. I wanted to ask for your advise :
    1) I have a combination skin, t zone oily and I easily hv break outs if I use oil based products on the face. Water based products work like a charm for me be it face wash or sunscreen. Can you recommend a brand
    2) also I live in a humid city Mumbai, I hv hair tht lacks lustre and gets oily soon and is rough what hair product brand would you recommend August 1, 2013 at 6:51am Reply

    • Victoria: You would like Avene and La Roche Posay products there. Many are formulated without oil.
      I like Kerastase products for hair, but they are not sold in pharmacies, only hair salons. You have to ask the salon staff to recommend something specific, since the line is huge. August 1, 2013 at 7:06am Reply

  • Dain: Lierac has a lovely multipurpose oil (Huile Sensorielle), less tropical than the others. August 12, 2013 at 8:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Dain! More oils to explore. :) August 12, 2013 at 8:41am Reply

  • Susie: I am really enjoying your website. I came across it while trying to search face products as I just moved to Brussels and my skin and hair are a mess! I told my husband that I think it’s been the hardest part of the move from the states is that my face is a mess and my products don’t seem to be working well here. There are a few pharmacies walking distance from my place and I will definitely be popping in to see if they can help me find a solution….that and I am having a water softener installed. :) March 12, 2014 at 7:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Susie, welcome to Brussels (and the land of hard water!) :) I definitely recommend installing a shower head with a filter and then change it every 3 months. Another thing that helped is just rinsing my face with Volvic (the least hard of all bottled waters) every time I wash it. It’s a pain at first, but now it’s like second nature. And the products I mentioned in this post are still working.

      Please don’t hesitate to ask any other Brussels related questions. It’s a quirky city, but I really enjoy it. March 12, 2014 at 7:23am Reply

      • Susie: Victoria,
        Thanks for the tips on the shower head, we had a water softener installed yesterday and I’m hoping that it helps. I have been washing my face with bottled water as I was desperate to try anything. Good to know about the volvic I just assumed all bottled water would be better. Fantastic your products are still working I am headed to the pharmacy tomorrow to see what they recommend. I am really enjoying Brussels so far it’s definitely a little quirky and driving is a little crazy here lol, but I am really loving being here and exploring the city. March 14, 2014 at 5:45pm Reply

  • Amy Y: Can anyone recommend a good eye cream to try for the pushing 50 crowd? June 25, 2014 at 10:58am Reply

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