The French Pharmacy The French Pharmacy

The French Pharmacy

Author Doré

The allure of the French Pharmacy, like all things French, sometimes seems a bit ineffable. What is it about those pharmacies that gets us so excited to shop, whereas a trip to a pharmacy in the US feels mundane and every-day. There are some key differences between the two that show us, once again, that the French do pharmacy best:


1. All pharmacies in France are independent, there are no pharmacy chains. Unlike chains like CVS or Walgreens in the US, all pharmacies in France are privately owned - there is a rule of one pharmacy per licensed pharmacist. This gives pharmacies in France more of a community feeling as opposed to the larger American chains.


2. French pharmacies are really that, just pharmacies. When you visit a French pharmacy, or parapharmacy, you’ll find prescriptions and often non prescription items like skincare. What you won’t find are things like magazines, gum, light groceries. The US pharmacy is more of a convenience store and tends to offer way more stuff, whereas the French pharmacy has a very specific purpose and curation. Oh and don’t expect them to be open 24 hours a day.


3. All French pharmacy employees have pharmacology training. While pharmacists in the US are also trained in pharmacology, most pharmacy employees in the US are not. Their work is focused on restocking product or working as a cashier. In France, in order to work in a pharmacy, the minimum training required is a préparateur en pharmacie. This training is why you can go into a French pharmacy and ask anyone working there for advice on skincare, or simple over the counter medication. The entire staff is super knowledgeable and educated, and are there to help beyond ringing up your purchase.


4. You don’t have to wait to fill a prescription in France. And they’re cheap. Yep, you just take your prescription to the pharmacist and a few seconds later they’re back (unless there’s some sort of special prep required). The pharmacist will explain how to use what they’ve given you and ask if you have any questions and you’re on your way. The cost of pharmaceuticals are also regulated in France, so prescription drugs tend to be much cheaper and are consistent across pharmacies.


5. The skincare products. The holy-grail of skincare, French pharmacies are beloved for their great selection of super efficacious products at accessible prices. Many brands carried in French pharmacies are made in France, and the French cosmetics industry has strict ingredient requirements, as well as strict requirements around efficacy claims. Those two things alone often guarantees that you’re going to get good products that work. And then there are the prices. Often you’ll find French pharmacy brands in the US are more expensive than they are in France. For products made in France, when you can eliminate the duties and export costs, they don’t have to be passed along to the customer.