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french pharmacies: a source of drugs, cosmetics, knowledge and something akin to serenity

 You know how men are supposedly drawn to hardware stores?   That’s how I feel about French pharmacies.

I could spend hours tinkering with French skincare creams, nail polishes, cosmetics, haircare products and contemplating the ingredients in a bevy of drugs, herbs and salves.   French drugstores have a lot of the stuff you might find in Barneys or Sephora such as Caudelie, Nuxe, Darphin,  a smattering of Eucerin, Oil of Olay amongst lots of things with exotic sounding names that I’ve never seen before.   I just know there’s a  miracle unguent in there somewhere.

I don’t know if French drugstores are more or less expensive than American ones.   I got 7 Zyrtec,  24 Advil and some cough syrup for 8.50 Euro.  I do know that Tiger Balm is exorbitant at about 12 Euro.   On the other hand, Roger and Gallet is like Dove over here.

In addition to all the homeopathic, aromatheraputic medicines, the over the counter drugs are much more interesting than ours(for starters, their over the counter cough syrup has codeine!)   Once, long ago in Paris, they gave me the most wonderful pain killer that had me floating through the Tuilleries which I have devoted part of my life trying to find again.

In Europe, they’re big on plant based cures.   For example, when I had a cold and asked for something to help, they gave me these capsules of essential oils and Advil.   I don’t know if it worked or whether the cold just ran its course, but I’m feeling better, thank you.

I’ve learned a lot of French words in French pharmacies.   Appaisant means calming.   Minceur means thin as in lose weight.      Grippe means flu.   Toux is cough.   Cellulite means cellulite.

Today’s word:   allaitement.

While taking leisurely browse at the Grande Pharmacie d’Antibes I find an exciting product I’ve never seen: Weleda Tisane Allaitement pour Serenite.  Weleda makes these lovely plant based moisturizers, bath oils and skincare products, which I’ve always liked.   I figure the tea must be delicious and will calm my rattled overworked nerves.

I take the box to the cash register along with the Mavala Daring Pink nail polish and hand them to the cashier.   I point to the tea and say boldly “j’ai besoin de serenite”.

She looks at me really funny.   My mind started whirling as I try to figure out what word I’d mangled and how badly I’ve offended her.   I stammer out some words trying to explain…”j’ai beaucoup du stress… beaucoup de travail… donc j’ai besoin d…”   At this point she looks concerned, shakes her head, studies the box and babbles something to the other cashier.

I’m thinking, “oh merde, what have I said?   They’re gonna kick me out of the pharmacy, no, Antibes for this…maybe even France.

The other cashier blurts out with it (in English):   “this tea is for breast feeding!”   Now I know what “allaitement” means.   They must think I’m nuts trying to buy a tea for lactating mothers.   I’m one step away from being known as that crazy old American woman in Antibes.

I turn the color of Malava Daring Pink nail polish, slap myself upside the head and say…”Okay. Merci.  Le vernis de ongles seulment.   Ces tisanes ont tres, tres, tres pas pour moi”    Then we all have a good laugh.

I make a conscious decision not to spin myself into an uproar wondering how she knew I’m NOT breastfeeding (clearly I’m old and flat chested).   And despite the lack of serenity inducing tea, I swear to God, every time I look at my newly painted toenails, I feel pretty damn good.

One Response

  1. Ha!!! Reminds me of the time I asked a Spanish friend for a tiburon instead of a tenedor. In other words, a shark instead of a fork 🙂 Lovely toes, though!

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