Models, beauty editors, bloggers, make-up artists and celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow are always obsessing about the French pharmacy and its legendary selection of cult beauty products. These secret weapons aren’t overpriced luxury items sold in department stores but no-nonsense everyday staples that can be found in every French person’s medicine cabinet (and in every make-up artist’s kit backstage at Fashion Week).
The French have a decidedly studied approach to skincare and beauty, and a trip to the Paris pharmacy offers a wealth of affordable, good value, time-tested lotions and potions like multi-purpose Homeoplasmine ointment, non-irritating make-up remover Bioderma Sensibio H2O, moisturizing Embryolisse face cream, life-changing Khlorane dry shampoo and other celebrated French beauty and skincare products.
Many cult French pharmacy brands are now available online in the U.S., usually at a considerable mark-up (a tube of Homeoplasmine, for example, will run you a couple of euros at the Paris pharmacy; buying it on Amazon can cost upwards of $30).
Stocking up while on French soil is a great way to save, but keep in mind that just because there is a green pharmacie light beckoning you on every Paris street corner, not all French pharmacies are created equal. Head to these top three Paris pharmacy hotspots for the city’s best selection and prices.
26 Rue du Four, 75006
Largely considered the cheapest source for French beauty products in Paris, City Pharma is located on the corner of rue Bonaparte and rue du Four in the 6th arrondissement. Expect it to be packed with locals and beauty pilgrims browsing the aisles full of leading French brands like La Roche-Posay, Vichy, Avène, Bioderma, Caudalie, Nuxe and more. This spot is an especially good bet if you are looking to buy favorite products in bulk.
Pharmacie des Archives
2 Rue des Archives, 75004
The slightly more under the radar Pharmacie des Archives, located across from the BHV department store near Hotel de Ville in the Marais, is smaller and often less crowded. They have a generally friendly, helpful staff, are happy to give out samples with your purchase (not always a given in Paris) and offer competitive prices on all the star products and more. And the Pharmacie des Archives is conveniently open Sundays (an a.m. visit before the rest of the neighborhood wakes up is a good bet).
74 Rue Monge, 75005
Located on rue Monge in the 5th arrondissement, Pharmacie Monge is another popular destination for French beauty bargains. Brace yourself for crowds. And if you don’t see something that you are looking for on the shelves, be sure to ask. Many products are stored behind the counter with the medicine.