When I arrived in Paris last week, my first order of business was not the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre or Printemps....it was to map my way to the St. Sulpice metro stop and head to City-Pharma as soon as it opened (8:30 am - btw). Here is what I did TWICE and lived to tell about it:
- Get there early. Even at 8:30 am on a Tuesday, this place was busy.
- Wear comfy shoes, clothes and keep your purse light. I walked out with 5 kg worth of stuff both times.
- Grab a basket. They're huge but helpful.
- Bring a list. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. This place is overwhelming, it is small, but it is 2 floors jam packed with A LOT of fabulous stuff.
- Bring your passport for the tax free form. Let's face it, you WILL spend more that $175 Euro, you might as well get a little kickback.
- Be nice to your neighbors and the staff. This place is a madhouse of small aisles that everyone is in together. Make it pleasant.
- Ask questions. I found that in the afternoon there is more staff walking the aisles offering assistance. Take it! Everyone is very nice - and at least TRY to speak French.
These are the items that I've used and that I am thrilled with so far:
Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream
Nuxe Oil - Gold and Plain - smells terrific and has many uses
Caudalie - Beauty Elixir - this stuff is incredible! ( I wish I bought more)
Biafine ACT - healed a burn in a flash!
Homeoplasmine - relieved chafing while I was in Paris and has MANY more uses.
Nuxe lip balm - Also a spectacular item!
These are just a few. I bought a ton of stuff that I'm still googling.
CityPharma is fantastic! I highly recommend you carve out some time to visit.
This is the place Lisa Eldridge (the make up artist) raves about...and for a reason!
First of all when planning to visit Citypharma make sure you dress lightly, wear comfortable shoes and don't bring any bags (just a small, easy to carry purse) because the place is packed! There is never a calm moment, it's a battlefield, so be prepared! This means: take a basket at the entrance (you'll need it), make a shopping list (or you'll be overwhelmed and incapable of buying anything because it will all be too much) and be prepared to occasionally push an Asian woman to the side (I'm not a racist but after all my visits to Citypharma I had to conclude that Asian people are pretty indecisive and tend to really take their time). I know all this doesn't sound appealing but you know what does: Citypharma carries a huge amount of skincare and beauty related products for the best prices. You have to know that a lot of french skincare brands, La Roche Posay, Caudalie, Vichy, Bioderma, Filorga, ... are cheaper in France and they are even cheaper in Citypharma. Citypharma always has the best deals. So if you're a fan of french skincare and planning a trip to Paris, make sure to add a visit to Citypharma to your to do list!
I have a serious love affair with skincare products. My skin is sensitive and over the years I have learned to take my time researching products and their ingredients before making a purchase. I was in Paris for my honeymoon and wanted to pick up products that I could not find or afford in the U.S. Many French skincare products are designed for sensitive skin, using natural oils and minimal scents. I found this pharmacie on Yelp, I did a quick comparison to prices of products that were available in my neighborhood pharmacie and this one definitely has more variety and better prices.
Take advice from the other reviewers; go early when they first open! This place is no secret and it gets jammed packed quickly. I had a hard time moving from aisle to aisle. Another piece of advice is to make a list and bring it with you! The first time I went I had an idea of what brands I wanted to look at but with the chaos in the store plus knowing minimal French it was hard to read the labels and I became confused and a little frustrated. The second time I went I brought a list and it was so much easier to get the products I wanted. Some store employees speak English and can help guide you to the right products but don't count on it. It has been a month since returning home and I've used many products. I will highlight some of my must-haves.
Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm: Possibly the best lip balm I have ever used. Put this on at night because it is too thick to wear during the day. It has a beautiful scent and my lips have never been more soft. I bought 5 balms. $2.99 FR/$15.99 US
Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse dry oil: This product was highly recommended. This is a multi-use spray and can be used on your skin, hair, bath, or face. I used it on my legs during a hot day and it kept my legs moisturized throughout the day. $11.99 FR/$33.00 US
Klorane Shampooing Sec Extra-Doux dry shampoo: Best dry shampoo I've ever tried! Keeps my hair looking fresh later into the evening without weighing my hair down. 2 for $9.00 FR/1 for $10 US
Bioderma Créaline H2O Solution Micellaire makeup remover: Sébium H2O is an ultra-mild cleansing formula. Cleans makeup really well especially on nights when you are tired and want to take off makeup quickly before bed. I purchased this in cleansing wipes too. 2 for $10.99 FR/1 for $28.33 US
Talika Eye Therapy Patch: Put these patches under your eyes for 30 minutes and it dramatically reduces under eye puffiness. I see a difference every time I use them! $20.00 FR/$39.00 US
Decleor Nourishing and soothing foot cream: I love this company but their products are insanely expensive. I was in the market for a nice foot and hand cream and this works great! They make wonderful moisturizers and facial masks as well. $7.99 FR/$28.00 US
Additional brands to explore: Embryolisse, Caudalie, La Roche-Posay, and Delarom. Luckily, there are many informative beauty blogs based in France that can help you find what works for you!
Right now I'm looking up the US prices for some of the more popular items Paris' City Pharma has to offer: the huge tube of BiafineACT cost me €3.99 at City Pharma - online (popular US shopping site that offers "discounted" items), those go for $23+ each. A 40 gram tube of Homeoplasmine cost me €2.99 at CP. Online (US), the same tube costs $24.99.
Then there's Caudalie's Eau de Beauté, or "Beauty Elixir", inspired by Queen Isabella of Hungary's "Elixir of Youth". I think I bought this for under €26 at CP (the big bottle, 3.4. fl. oz, & the 1 luxury item you'd find in my Survivor Game Bag); in that US site, this same bottle costs $43 or more. My sister recently discovered this bottle sitting on my vanity & asked me why it smells like heaven. The response was a melancholic "because it is". Should've bought 3 bottles. I'm hooked on this stuff.
There are definitely some good finds at Paris' City Pharma, & it's true what they say that this is no secret; many are in the know. You'll see when you visit. I could hardly get around in the store when I went there for my haul & my sister's, because the place was packed, & this was what, high noon? The stuff in tubes (Homeoplasmine, etc.), you will find on the upper level, by the prescription area counters, to your right.
Also check out Avibon's Vitamin Pommade (anti-aging, selling for like $60+ per tube in the US, Gwyneth Paltrow's favorite), Embryolisse Concentrated Lait Creme, Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm, Baume de Rose By Terry, etc. It might be best to do some online research before you visit, to know which products are of best value or rated 4-5 stars & are reasonably priced, especially compared to US prices.
The pharmacists at City Pharma are helpful, knowledgeable experts, although they will also follow you around to make sure you don't shoplift. Also, ask only the pharmacists (or the people in white coats) for assistance. An irate worker - might have been the custodian - told me & another French lady, "white!!", when we asked for recommendations. I think what she meant was that we were supposed to ask the ladies in white, or the pharmacists, for assistance. At a neighborhood supermarket (also in Paris, & this was the first time this ever happened to me), 1 of the lady workers asked me to show her the contents of my purse. Maybe this is just how they do things in Paris, & I wasn't exactly judged based on my mullet & tattered Walmart shirt. Sometimes it's really best not to take things personally. At CP, there were also male guards keenly observing the shoppers.
As expected, I spent a ton of €, lol, but with tax returns - thanks Global Blue - it's as if I got my Beauty Elixir & 1 BiafineACT tube for free! I will DEFINITELY go back to Paris for City Pharma (& for the food, the art, the macarons, chocolates, etc) :) Hopefully with my sister, next time. Can't wait.
We heart you City Pharma!! :)
If you're buying a lot (€100 or more, I think), they'll give you a Global Blue tax free form/receipt for getting back about 17-20% (can't remember) of your purchases. Do remember to get this stamped at Customs (airport of the last EU country you're visiting), & then leave the form with Global Blue, also at the same airport. You could actually save even more on Caudalie products by buying from their official website, but shopping at City Pharma is an experience you just can't miss, & you have more brand choices.
If you're a beauty products junkie, this is THE "drug" store to get your highest high from. And if you end up buying a ton of stuff & have no idea what they're for, no worries. Remember, Google is your friend :)
This pharma is the SHIT! My favorite place in all of Paris to purchase French skincare/pharmacy goods.
Go right when the store opens as it gets very busy and the lines are long to check out.
I can't wait to go back to Paris just to hit the city-pharma
This place is pretty crazy. It is almost like shopping on black friday in the states. The place is packed to the rim with French skincare/pharmacy goods and people shopping for them. It was a little hard to navigate trying to find products since there is just so much but after awhile I got the hang of it. The checkout line was also really fast since there were so many though I have to admit it was kind of hard to find at first since the isles are so tall it is hard to see. But once I found it there was literally only one person in front of me. The prices are also a little cheaper than other pharmacies around Paris so definitely somewhere to go to stock up on your favorite French skincare/pharmacy items.
OMG! This place has the BEST deals in Paris for French skincare and drugstore products. We compared prices against regular pharmacies, Marionnaud (cosmetics chain) and Monoprix, and City Pharma beat the others every single time! We couldn't believe the deals to be had.
And apparently, the City Pharma secret is out because upon each visit (three times total over 6 days), the store was completely packed, to the point of a near mob scene. The aisles are narrow to begin with so it gets a bit claustrophobic, but all the bargains we scored totally made it worth dealing with the madding crowds.
Seriously, prices on brands like La Roche Posay, Bioderma, Nuxe, Caudalie, Embryolisse, RoC, Phyto and more are almost (sometimes more than) half off US prices!
We also stocked up on lip balms and various France-only ointments and creams such as Homeoplasmine, Biafine, and Avibon.
So wish we had a City Pharma stateside!
Note: They are very strict about closing time and will tell you multiple times to get to the cash register BEFORE closing time or they won't ring up your sale! Not sure if that's true but we didn't want to chance it.
Got a good deal on Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse 100ml for 17 euros, La Roche Posay Effaclar duo+ for 7,40 euros and it came with a decent sized sample of the effaclar face wash, and Embryolisse lait creme concentrate 2 pack 75ml each for 19,90. Also picked up some Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo for 13,50 for a two pack. Compared to Pharmacie Monge, this place isn't as packed, but there are still a ton of tourists here. Some items here aren't as cheap as the other pharmacy, but they have better deals on several items. It gets pretty packed mid-day and the rows aren't that big so you end up having to squeeze through to where ever you're trying to get. Regret not buying more when I visited!
The best prices. You can get Bioderma two-pack for 15euro- say what? I paid 24 before in my pharmacy...
Its tiny and packed with people and the service isnt the nicest but this really doesnt matter, you cant beat these prices. Even on a rainy day it was so busy, you had to squeeze between shelves and people to pass but oh, so worth it!
If you're looking for cheap French skin and haircare, look no further! I unfortunately went to a regular pharmacie the day before and realized how much I'd overpaid when I went to CityPharma. They were having major deals on some of the items I'd picked up (Phyto, Caudelie, Klorane) and I was kicking myself for not waiting, even though the regular pharmacies already sell those brands at a considerable discount from American Sephoras or online retailers. I erroneously thought I'd find Kerastase here, which was what I planned on getting but it's still a beauty product addict's paradise. The top floor also has "natural" products like dried gogi berries, which I found interesting.
The next time I'm in Paris, I'll be sure to visit Citypharma first! It was an absolute madhouse when we stopped by in the afternoon, so I'd probably come first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds.
This store fulfills all your fantasies about French pharmacy skin cares. I just came back from a visit to Paris, and I didn't know about this store beforehand, but lives within walking distance. Actually found this store on google (precisely recommended by lisa eldridge), and paid a few visits to the store throughout my stay in Paris. You can literally find every possible french pharmacy skin care brand here, the first floor is packed full of skin cares from the bottom to the very top of the shelves. Aisles between shelves are VERY narrow, allowing only one person to pass through, and it's usually a full house regardless of the time. As soon as you walk into the store you're like a little mouse falling into a bucket of cream you don't want to walk outta there. Dream place for shopping skin care, don't miss out.
I buy beauty products here when I visit Paris. I try something new each time I go. The staff is helpful if you go early in the day when it's not so crowded. They have a small selection of organic beauty products which is a must for me.
Ummm sure its got cheap prices and a good selection of french products. Beware...people who work there are rude. On the one hand trying to help you but on the other, rude when you accidentally put something down somewhere in the store and lost track of it. Oh I didn't know that its customary for French employees to supervise your basket as you walk all along the store. To top it all of, very accusatory in language and just do nothing for american impression of french culture and its people. The lady then proceeds to tell me, you need to put the product back which btw I forgot where I left it. So I offered to search the store, then she say no I will do it. RIDICULOUS! Yo, people working at this store...get some manners and etiquette its free. I could have easily sent my many friends that are in the makeup and skin care business but now I definitely wont.
Tip : City Pharma is a small pharmacy that offers discounts on French brands, and others, some at half price. Practice your french, you'll have to compete with other Parisians in this small space. Expect great discounts on brands like Lierac, Rene Furterer, Klorane and many others. Its great 'beauty' shopping. If you can't find what you are looking for ask! Some assistants will gladly direct you elsewhere.
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