The ultimate guide to the best pharmacies in Paris: become an expert!
If France is the home of the best pharmacies in the world, then Paris is pharmacy utopia. Before you rush towards the first green sign to pick up the cult products you’ve been reading about, there are some things you need to know.
While most will stock the most famous products, not all Paris pharmacies are created equal. Nor are they all peaceful havens – to get the best deals you’re going to need sharp elbows and some insider knowledge.
Paris pharmacies – which are the best?
When it comes to pharmacies for beauty products in Paris, there are only two names worth mentioning: Citypharma and Pharmacie Monge. These behemoths stand out from the rest for their vast stock and fantastic price deals. You need to be a little savvy before going to either of these or you could end up leaving disappointed, and even somewhat traumatised.
The big one: Citypharma
Its size and prices make Citypharma the most famous pharmacy in Paris, and the most crowded.
This is not a place for leisurely browsing so you’ll need to be ready with both a shopping strategy and a wish list of products – we’ve prepared a list for you of the best French pharmacy products as a starting point.
Shopping strategy at Citypharma
- Cult items like Bioderma micellar water will be snatched up as soon as they’re stocked so it’s best to fling as many different versions into your basket as possible and put back any you don’t want afterwards.
- Conventional tourist wisdom encourages going first thing in the morning to avoid peak times, but with staff stocking the shelves you might find even less space available to shop. A late evening visit is the best option for a more peaceful shopping experience, when you can browse at your leisure while the crowds are all having dinner. Enter on a weekend afternoon at your own peril.
- Another trick is to head upstairs to the prescription section; this is where you’ll find Homéoplasmine and Biafine and the tills are usually much quieter.
The contender: Pharmacie Monge
Address: 74 rue Monge, 75005 Paris
Métro: Place Monge
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8am – 11pm, Saturdays 8.30am – 11pm, Sundays 8.30am – 8pm
While the prices and stock are very like those of Citypharma, Monge is smaller and less crowded, at least on weekdays.
What to expect at Pharmacie Monge
- You might be surprised to see many of the signs and prices are in Korean; after a South Korean blogger gave the pharmacy a good review, it became so popular that it’s included in Korean guidebooks. On weekends, Monge is bustling with South Korean tourists stocking up on French beauty brands.
- Pharmacie Monge accommodates such crowds in the smaller shop by stocking many products behind counters, so ask if you can’t see what you’re looking for. As a bonus, you’ll be given a handful of samples with your purchase at the till to try.
- A calmer setting allows you to consult with the shop assistants, who are trained to give out personal advice on your skincare regime.
My top two tips for mastering French pharmacy shopping
1. Most shop floor assistants are trained in pharmacology; however, don’t take that to mean that all pharmacy assistants are oracles of knowledge and should be obeyed at all times – despite the mythology of beauty bloggers on the subject.
Know your own skin and what’s right for you to avoid being persuaded into unnecessary purchases.
2. Beyond the big two pharmacies, you can’t be sure you’re getting the best deal, and you could be charged up to double the price without knowing. The best way to avoid being ripped-off at a smaller pharmacy is to know your prices by checking online.
French pharmacy brand products are usually below 15 euros, and anything over 20 euros should ring alarm bells!
Other notable Paris pharmacies:
Pharmacie Les Champs ElyséeAddress: 84 Ave. des Champs-Elysées, Galeries des Champs-Elysées, 75008 Paris
Métro: George V
Opening hours: 24/7
Open seven days a week, this one’s a real life-saver!
Pharmacie des ArchivesAddress: 2 rue des Archives, 75004 Paris
Métro: Hotel de Ville
Opening hours: every day 8.30am – 9pm
Open every day of the week, including Sundays, Archives is a smaller and less crowded alternative.
Galeries Lafayette HaussmannAddress: 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris
Métro: Chaussée d’Antin la Fayette
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 8.30pm, Sundays 11am – 7pm
If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, the beauty floor in this famous department store stocks high end as well as pharmacy brands. During holiday seasons, it can get a little crowded.
Now you have all you need to become a master of shopping at Paris pharmacies, you’re ready to go on a beauty hunt – just remember your pardons and make sure you leave enough room in your suitcase for all your finds!
Have you been to Paris’s best pharmacies? What are your tips? Share your advice in the comments below!
Read the rest in our series to discover the secrets of French pharmacies
1. ‘Parisian Pharmacy’, via wikimedia commons
2. ‘City-Pharma’, via Yelp
3. ‘Pharmacie Monge’, via Yelp
4. ‘Skincream’, via Pixabay
5.‘Healthy Skin’, via Pixabay