When in Paris, your shopping haul needn’t be limited to fashion -- there are a plethora of affordable delights to be found in the ordinary high street chemist.
Parisian women take their grooming seriously and
high-performance skincare plays an essential role in their daily routine. Many
of the brands available in pharmacies in the French capital are hard to find
elsewhere in the world or are only sold by luxury retailers, but are must-haves
for a well-turned out Parisienne – and so are easy to come by and affordable to
For sensitive, intolerant or allergic
skins, look to the French pharmacy-stocked brand Avène which contains thermal spring water from
the Languedoc Roussillon region in the south of France, the soothing properties
of which are endorsed by dermatologists. The thermal water spray
is a particular comfort for irritated skin, as are the face creams for redness relief.
Roche Posay is another favourite brand with dermatologists, also using the
almost-magical resource of thermal spring water. The brand, which is only sold
in pharmacies, limits the active
ingredients in each product and removes every constituent which isn’t necessary
for the product's efficacy, making it particularly recommended for sensitive
Chic brands Caudalie
and Nuxe both have spas in Paris and farther afield in
the French countryside , yet sell their ranges of luxurious and effective
skincare products in the humble pharmacy. Caudalie, sold in high-end cosmetic
retailers in the UK such as Space NK and Selfridges, unites the worlds of wine and
skincare with “vinotherapy”, using ingredients derived from grapes in their
products. Their exfoliating Crushed Cabernet Scrub makes a great gift, as does the
cult body oil, Huile Prodigieuse, from Nuxe – a brand which focuses on
Another favourite available at French chemists is
the make-up remover from Bioderma, Sensibio H2O, which has a water-like
consistency ideal for cleansing sensitive skins, and is often an essential
component of professional makeup
artists’ kits. And the star product from skincare brand Biafine is
their eponymous cream, which is great for healing burned or irritated skin and
is a bathroom cupboard staple for many a Parisian.
High quality pharmacy-sold skincare isn’t only
topical though, with French brand Oenibiol
selling a range of beauty supplements -- including capsules for dark undereye
circles, cellulite reduction or for preparing skin for sunbathing -- that work
from the inside out.
Look for the neon green cross which denotes all
French pharmacies or, even better, a shop sign saying “Para Pharmacy”— the name
for a non-dispensing pharmacy which specialises in cosmetics — to scoop up these
serious skincare goodies. Pharmacies can be found on most high streets, and the
chain ParaShop has a great, and wide, selection of skincare
brands and has branches throughout Paris. Or for a bargain head to City Pharma
(26 Rue du Four, 75006; 01-46-33-20-81) in Saint Germain which
has extensive stock and some of the lowest prices in the capital.
Kim Laidlaw Adrey is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.