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What you can buy at pharmacies in France

By Jean
Reading Time: 4 minutes
pharmacies in france

For international students planning to live and study in France, understanding what you can purchase at local pharmacies is crucial for a comfortable and healthy stay.

Pharmacies in France offer a wide range of products, far beyond just medications. From popular beauty products to daily necessities and all sorts of medicine, French pharmacies are treasure troves of health and wellness products. This guide will delve into what you can find in pharmacies in France, ensuring you’re well-prepared for your journey.

The Image of Pharmacies in France

Pharmacies in France are more than just places to fill prescriptions; they’re institutions of trust and quality. Notable for their green crosses, they are easy to find. Pharmacies in France are renowned for their high-quality beauty products, over-the-counter medications, and personalized advice from pharmacists.

Popular chains offer extensive selections and often have staff who speak multiple languages, making them accessible to international students. Here are some popular names:

  • Pharmacie Monge – Famous for its competitive prices and a wide selection of products, Pharmacie Monge is a go-to for many looking for beauty products, supplements, and healthcare items.
  • Pharmacie Lafayette – This chain is known for offering a broad array of health, beauty, and wellness products at competitive prices. Pharmacie Lafayette has multiple locations across France, making it a convenient option for many.
  • CityPharma – Located in Paris, CityPharma is renowned for its extensive product range and often lower prices. It’s a favourite for both locals and visitors searching for skincare and health products.

pharmacies in france

Beauty Products

French pharmacies are famous worldwide for their premium selection of beauty products. Brands like La Roche-Posay, Vichy, and Avène offer products for every skin type, often recommended by dermatologists. These items range from skincare essentials like moisturizers and serums to sunscreens and anti-ageing treatments, all backed by scientific research and dermatological testing.

Daily Life Necessities

You can find a variety of products such as dental care items, hair care products, nutritional supplements, and even baby care essentials. These products often come from trusted brands such as Oral B, Listerine, Klorane, Mustela, known for their high-quality ingredients and effectiveness.

All Sorts of Medicine

Pharmacies in France are stocked with a wide array of medications to address common ailments:

General Pain Relief

For minor aches and pains, Doliprane, containing paracetamol, is the go-to of many French people. Other popular brands include Dafalgan and Efferalgan which also contain paracetamol​​.

Cold and Flu

To combat symptoms like congestion, coughs, and sore throats, Actifed Rhume is a go-to option. Other notable mentions for cold remedies are Humex Rhume, Fervex, and Advil Rhume​.


For headaches, including migraines, Nurofen and Advil are common choices, both containing ibuprofen.

Stomach Pain

For indigestion, acid reflux, and general gastrointestinal discomfort, Rennie or Gaviscon are widely used as an antacid. For a broader range of stomach issues, Spasfon is recommended.

Insect Bites and Itchiness

Butix is a recommended product for insect bites, along with Synthol, a liquid applied with a cotton swab for bug bites and minor skin irritations​​.

Muscle Pain

French pharmacies offer various gels, creams, and patches for muscle relaxation and pain relief. Brands like Voltaren are commonly used for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Travel Sickness

For travel sickness, Nausicalm and Mercalm are good options. These medications are designed to prevent nausea, vomiting, and dizziness caused by travel sickness​​.

IMPORTANT: Always consult with a pharmacist or healthcare provider to find the best option for your specific needs.

pharmacies in france

Medicine Under or Not Under Medical Prescription

In France, medications are categorized into those that require a medical prescription and those that do not. Prescription medications include stronger painkillers, antibiotics, and specific treatments for chronic conditions. Meanwhile, a wide range of medications for everyday ailments can be purchased without a prescription.

Pharmacists in France play a crucial role in healthcare, providing advice and recommendations for non-prescription medications, ensuring you get the appropriate treatment for your symptoms.

How much does it cost?

The cost of medicines in France, whether they require a prescription or not, varies significantly. Prescription medications are reimbursed by the Sécurité Sociale (SECU) at rates from 15% to 100%, based on their deemed necessity and effectiveness. However, over-the-counter medicines are not covered by the SECU, and pharmacies are free to set their own prices. Given this variability in coverage, securing a complementary health insurance is highly advisable. It can cover the costs not reimbursed by the SECU, ensuring that individuals are not out of pocket for essential health care needs.

Learn more about SECU and the French healthcare system in this article:

Vocabulary for buying medicine

When visiting pharmacies in France, it’s helpful to know a few key phrases in French or to have a translation app handy. Check out our article to learn key French medical terms here:

pharmacies in france

For international students living and studying in France, familiarizing yourself with what’s available at these pharmacies ensures you’re prepared for any health concern. Whether it’s finding the appropriate medication for a sudden cold or headache, French pharmacies are your go-to resource for health and wellness.

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