My Latest French Pharmacy Finds


French Pharmacy Finds

Forget the Louvre. Ditch Notre Dame. And scrap the Eiffel Tower.

If there is only one destination you visit while you are in Paris, it should be a pharmacy.

French pharmacies are renowned the world over for the wealth of skincare lotions and potions that can be found just below a flashing green cross.

On our recent visit, primarily because we stayed just around the corner, I finally made it to the fabled City Pharma (sometimes know as City Pharmacie) on rue de Four in Paris’ 6th arrondissement.

Reputed as having the best range and prices of all the pharmacies in Paris, City Pharma is also known for being extremely crowded. A reputation I can confirm, despite the fact that I walked through the doors just after nine in the morning.

But the effort of fighting my way through the crowds was worth it. The range and prices were indeed impressive, as was the service. When I asked an assistant for help in finding a particular product, she immediately (and correctly) diagnosed my skin as ‘sensitive combination’ and pointed me in the direction of a range that could support my apparently confused skin.

Apart from purchasing the products she suggested, I also picked up a number of new finds as well as a few old favourites.

My Latest French Pharmacy Finds

Darphin Paris Ideal Resource: Smoothing Serum and Fluid. These were the products the assistant recommended. I’ve been using them for over a month now and have to tell you that I really like them. You only need the tiniest amount and the sensitivity in my skin has definitely settled down.

Talika Lipocils & Black: 2-in-1 eyelash conditioner and mascara. This product is quite expensive in Australia, but the exact opposite at City Pharma. I’d used the lash conditioner previously, however I hadn’t tried the mascara. Turns out that the mascara is quite lovely – a deep black that lasts well. And the whole 2-in-1 thing is great for travelling.

Caudalie Nourishing Body Lotion. I’d tried Caudalie’s Divine Oil but this time I was in the market for a more everyday body moisturiser. My skin was so dry after the Aussie winter. This lotion is excellent. I adore the scent and it absorbs easily, leaving just the slightest sheen on your skin.

La Roche-Posay retinol products. I always make sure I stock up while I’m overseas because although you can buy them in Australia, the prices are better in France.

Marvis toothpaste. Yes, I’m aware Marvis is actually an Italian brand – but for me Marvis equals French toothpaste. The packaging is gorgeous and the flavours are very different – my favourite is Amarelli Licorice.

Finally, although I didn’t buy any, I was interested to note that the well known pharmacy favourite Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré was in the basket of so many of my fellow shoppers. I don’t think I know another moisturiser that has been so popular for so long.

Are you a fan of French pharmacies? Do you have any favourite products? If so, I’d love for you to share in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.

Please note – this is an unsolicited post and no compensation of any kind has been received by Distant Francophile from the brands mentioned.


About Janelle

I believe that every woman can bring French style and joie de vivre to her life, no matter where she happens to live in the world. She only needs to know a secret or two to be on her way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll learn the style and grooming secrets that will help you to dress with the confidence so many French women seem to have.


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17 thoughts on “My Latest French Pharmacy Finds

  • Nicole

    I am so happy to read your article… J’adore cette pharmacie Janelle. and stay around the corner coincidentally.. I absolutely love Caudalie products particularly the no rinse make up remover and the shower gel. I can’t wait to get to Paris with an empty toiletry bag and then shop up for my stay in France plus a little supply to take home. I discovered the Roche Posay sunscreen this summer and shared with my travellers.

    • Janelle Post author

      You make an excellent point Nicole. There is absolutely no point dragging all your normal toiletries to France. If you are anything like me you will just end up replacing with a stack of beautiful new products!!

  • Kelly

    Nuxe is a fabulous brand of products that I found in a pharmacy in a small village in Provence last summer. I bought a trial/travel set of their products, and I love the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-purpose Dry Oil and Eau de Partum, both available on Amazon.

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks so much for your comment Kelly. It is funny the things we forget when we have so much choice in front of us! If I’d written that post 2 years Nuxe would have definitely made the list – one year I came back with so many bottles of their dry oil it was frightening (despite the fact that I bought them as gifts). Nuxe is definitely a brand worth considering whenever you set foot into a French pharmacy.

  • Alisa

    Such irony to find good prices in the sixth! 🙂

    Three things I always look for in a Paris pharmacie to bring home to the States:
    1. Evian or other brumisateur (mineral water mister) – yes, I know that it is just Evian water in an aerosol can, but I am totally willing to be taken advantage of for this! So refreshing in the summer! and it does set makeup beautifully when I wear makeup. It was introduced to the market when I was an au pair many years ago, so that is another part of its charm for me.
    2. “Email Diamant” toothpaste, with the toreador on the box (the son of the creator of this classic toothpaste – a pharmacist, btw – was actually a toreador). It comes in several formulae now, but I usually get the classic rouge/red. It is supposed to make your teeth appear brighter from the contrast with the red gums. Dunno about that, but the taste and smell is very mild, not intrusive as our American toothpaste can be (Crest…ugh). It used to be only available in the pharmacies, but I have seen it in some grocers’ toiletries section lately.
    3. The best.mosquito.repellent.on.the.planet, called “Cinq sur Cinq”. I discovered it in Guadeloupe, a French tropical island. It is magically effective and has a pleasant smell. When I saw it in Paris I stocked up – I live in Virginia, where the mosquitoes can be almost as bad as the tropics when the weather is rainy in the summer.

    French pharmacist training is much more extensive than it is in the US. Most pharmacies have a consulting room where you can sit with the pharmacist and discuss your symptoms – a pharmacist in France can actually write prescriptions for a limited number of medicines, and not just fill them. I was wretchedly ill on one trip, and the pharmacist fixed me right up!

    And…if you go out mushroom picking in the wild, the pharmacie is the place to go to confirm that they are safe to eat; pharmacists are trained to be able to distinguish between the edible and the poison.

    As you pointed out in your post, customer service in France is extraordinary – sales staff actually know their inventory and can offer knowledgeable recommendations. That has become very rare in the US – it is easy to get spoiled in France!

    As always, thank you for a lovely and informative post!

    • Janelle Post author

      Scotty actually saw your comment before I did Alisa and he is very excited by the idea of French mosquito repellent. Mosquitoes (and every other creepy crawly) love the Australian summer and we are always on the look out for new ways to avoid them. I’m wishing right now that I’d asked for buying tips before I went to France. Oh well – there is always next time. And thank you for reminding me about the pharmacists and the mushrooms – I love that they can advise you whether or not they are safe. As in the US, good pharmacist advice is increasingly difficult to find in Australia. We seem to be overrun with cut price pharmacies. But for what we save in $$ we lose in advice. I think I prefer the French way of doing things.

      • Alisa

        Re the skeeters – once bitten, another French product is an after-bite product called mosquitox. It comes in a small glass rollerball applicator/bottle, only about 2″ long, shaped sort of like a lipstick tube. It is easy to carry (the glass is not fragile at all) and immediately kills the itch! I am oversensitive to insect bites and this was a godsend when a mosquito got under the netting at night.
        Another brand of the same sort of thing is Dapis Stick but I thought it was somewhat less effective, made by Boiron.
        Both are made in France, another ‘stock-up’ item for me!

        • Janelle Post author

          Thanks Alisa. I struggle with insect bites too (so much so that I carry an Epipen with me) and I am always on the lookout for things that can help stop the itch. My shopping list is getting long!! I’ll just have to go back.

  • Our French Oasis

    I absolutely love Filorga Optim eye patches, every once in a while when I have the luxury of a fifteen minute lie in (which is not that often) I will pop on these eye patches and hope the children don’t come running in and run out screaming at the sight! But they work small miracles, I love them.

  • Patricia

    Bonjour Janelle
    I really enjoy your enthusiasm and writings of France. I too adore the whole French thing. I grew up in Montreal and have lived for many years in Vancouver,Canada where we finally have a few French patisseries !!! I am searching for where you stayed or anyone stayed in Annecy and also Paris recommendations. Not sure what it comes under. Don’t see ‘places to stay’ on your list but I know I have seen this on your site. Would you mind telling me where to find this. I am doing a “sister trip” next September with my sis who has never travelled. I haven’t been to Paris since 1975 !!! OMG I know. I seem to go to southern France which is where we will begin our trip. Kind of thinking of making our way to maybe Lyon (Annecy) and then Paris. Not exactly sure. Our Canadian dollar is not in great shape these days so any place is about another 25% for us against U.S.dollar. I am thinking of an apartment in Paris for a couple of nights but NO idea of which district to stay in. I really want it to be special but not at exorbitant prices. We love walking. Needs to be safe so we can walk around at night and close to some attractions. Merci for any suggestions. A Bientot, Patricia

    • Janelle Post author

      Bonjour Patricia. Your ‘sister trip’ sounds like it will be amazing. I’d love to visit France with my sister, but I think we will have to wait until her little ones are a bit older.

      Now, in terms of places to stay…With regard to both Lyon and Annecy, I wouldn’t recommend either of the actual apartments we stayed in but I would suggest that you seek out accommodation in the ‘old part of town’ in both cities.Yes, there will be more tourists, but the atmosphere in both ‘old towns’ is charming and you will definitely be in an excellent spot to explore.

      When it comes to Paris, I have written a couple of posts that might help you (just not enough for them to have their own category).

      We have published 2 posts on the various Parisian arrondissements Which Parisian Arrondissement Is Best To Stay In? and Which Parisian Arrondissement Is Best To Stay In? Part Two. For the record, my favourite arrondissement is probably the 6th, as it is within walking distance to just about everything.

      In terms of apartments, we’ve had excellent luck with Haven In properties. And while we’ve never stayed in an AirBnB apartment, I know many travellers love them. Stay tuned in the next week or so for a post from DF reader Alisa about her AirBnB adventure.

      I hope this helps with your planning – please don’t hesitate to yell out with further questions.

      Warmest, Janelle.

      • eveange66

        With all due respect, and although this post is already quite old, I would highly suggest to any tourist worth is salt (or daring enough to feel less … touristy) to try and stay our of the usual part of Paris everyone seems to speak of. For the record, 6th, 7th and 8th arrondissement (part?) of Paris are among the most expensive places to stay in Paris.I really don’t understand why tourists are all herding there sigh… You could try to go near place de la Bastille which is very easy to reach, close to Le Marais and full of history, far less expensive and even, heaven forbid, some very stunning places with this artistic touch. Or if you are feeling bold (my God, are you feeling bold…!!), try the 9th or the 15th. I am not even speaking of the outskirts because of course, as Fox News once said, this is no man’s land!! Well of course it is up to you if one prefer to spend many $$$ in accommodation rather than sightseeing and going to smart restaurant and cafe. But then it takes some time to know Paris, not only some privileged places. Yes I am french, no, not from Paris.

        • Janelle Post author

          Thanks for reminding me of the 9th. We stayed there many years ago, and it is a great part of Paris to stay in. And it’s within walking distance of many of the sights, which is what a lot of first time visitors are looking for.

        • Alisa

          I always try to convince my friends to stay anyplace except the typical tourist spots; it is so easy to come back with a picture of Paris that is more caricature than reality. As a practical matter, the metro can take you anywhere in Paris in very little time, no matter where one stays.
          My favorite new quartier is in the 14th arrondissement, the quartier Petit Montrouge around the metro Alésia. Within walking distance is the Catacombes, the Cimitière Montparnasse, and lots of interesting shopping, varying from the mid-upscale such as the Comptoir des Cotonniers and Petit Bateau to an outlet store for French porcelain, and everything in between.

          • Janelle Post author

            While we’ve stayed in the 15th Alisa, we’ve not tried the 14th. Sounds like it has a lot to offer. And you are so right about the Metro – it is incredibly efficient in getting both visitors and travellers around Paris. All that said, although I’m a regular Metro user, I still love walking around Paris – it provides so many opportunities to stumble across something completely unexpected!