Skin care

Paris: Shopping Trip to City Pharma

July 23, 2015

Citipharma 9Today I found myself just near City Pharma at 26 Rue Four, 75006, Paris. Beauty lovers may recall that this is the destination recommended by the lovely Lisa Eldridge in her video describing her favorite French skincare. The last time that I ventured near City Pharma, it had just been filled with two (!) busloads of French shoppers. European shops are not famed for their generous aisles, and the crowd made it impossible to browse. However, today the streets nearby looked relatively quiet, and so I braved through the doorway to see what I could find. Please come with me so you can see it too.

Citi Pharmacie 6As a starting point, this tiny two-floor store is a tiny building absolutely packed with every French pharmacy line that you’ve ever heard of, and several that I had not. The prices are amazingly low, particularly from my U.S. perspective. Consider this La Roche Posay Efaclar Duo listed on the company’s site for its retail price at $36.95:

LRP Effaclar

 

In most of my photos, I’ve tried to include the store’s prices (in yellow tags at the front of the shelves) so that you can compare. At Paris’ City Pharma, this runs Effaclar Duo (same 40 ml. size) is just under 9 euros:

Effaclar La roche posayHere are some more images so you can shop along with me:

La roche posay anthelios

Even without the buses, the store was incredibly crowded. Despite this, the atmosphere was polite. The words of the day were “Pardonez-moi, s’il vous plait.” In the crowded areas, its a bit like seeing the Mona Lisa. People at the front take a moment and then depart, the next layer of the crowd moves forward, and finally those at the back get their turn. By that time, more layers have formed. Like so much of French life, it’s the unwritten rules that work the best. Patience, don’t break this unwritten code. Here you can see so many beautiful Caudalie products, so little time:
Paris Beauty Crawl

Within these tiny aisles are white-coated sales associates who can direct you to the various products. I had to ask several for assistance, and each seemed to understand the product names and my requests (in very poor French). I’d go in with product names in mind. Although long discussions aren’t out of the question, I think it’s best to do your comparison shopping at a more leisurely parapharmacie. For example, Parashops are located throughout Paris, and their service is very good. I’ve purchased plenty from them, although their prices aren’t as rock-bottom as these they are very reasonable.institute estederm

I was surprised to see Institut Estederm here, as I had always thought of this as a department store line. The prices here were roughly 10-20% lower than the department store prices.la roche posay anthelios XL

These jumbo 300 ml. sunscreens went for 14.90 euros. They’re huge!!Klorane 2

And here we have many Klorane products, under 5 euros.
Klorane

I had literally never heard of these brands.citi pharmacie paris 8

Hold onto your wallets, these 2-packs of Bioderma cleanser are 15.45 euro (these run roughly $20 for a single bottle on Beautylish). Of course, on Beautylish there is no plane ticket involved.

BiodermaThe store has a very large department for selling all types of dental products, and an enormous herb/detox/supplement area.  Checkout is on the upper floor, and asks for your patience. Although there are probably 20 cashiers, the lines run long.

checkoutIt’s nice to be good at math in there, or else your basket will fill up faster than your bank account. Always, always, always research before you buy. Your time should go smoothly if you’ve pre-shopped and you know what you are going for. I’m very happy with my purchases, and I was in and out in under 30 minutes.  Be brave, Paris shoppers!!

Citipharmacie Pais

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  • Shely July 23, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    A little note that the EU formula of Effaclar Duo is different from the US formula. The former can be used all over the face; the US one is more like a spot treatment.

    • Amy July 23, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Shellygrrl. I wasn’t looking around for a specific example, I’m assuming people will be doing their own conversions, research and math.

      As readers know, I’m not much of a bargain shopper. I’m making the point that the prices are quite a bit lower overall. The Caudalie prices were roughly half, some reduced even more. Those products seem identical to the ones that I use. It was really eye-opening. Much of the sun care items aren’t available in the US at all in the same form.

  • Clever Girl Reviews July 23, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    I had wanted to make a trip back to Paris before leaving the EU just to go stock up for this reason! So much cheaper even with the exchange rate at the time!

  • Zeynep July 23, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    What a fantastic haul – I’m so envious! I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the LRP Serozinc spray….

    • Amy July 24, 2015 at 1:28 am

      I’ve used it before, and really like it. It’s amazing how healing it is. I’m not sure what’s in it, but it is very effective on me.

  • Maureen July 24, 2015 at 9:06 am

    I imagine that shopping in Paris is a bonus to a wonderful trip, but you can buy almost all the same brands at Canadian pharmacies. Avene, La Roche-Posay, ROC, Dermaglow, and Vichy are excellent brands. Treat yourself to a long weekend in a fabulous Canadian city and stock up since the Canadian dollar is 25 cents lower than the American greenback.

    • Charli August 2, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      Maureen, Could you give me some names of the better pharmacies for when I go to Canada? Thank you!

      • Nicole La Roche August 2, 2015 at 3:48 pm

        Shely’s right! You can get these brands in Canada. I live in Toronto and purchase my Avene, Bioderma, La Roche-Posay and Nuxe products at the Shoppers Drug Mart drugstore and perhaps can be found in the Rexall drugstore, which are all over Toronto. This said, please keep in mind:
        – LRP Serozinc is not sold in Canada
        – Duo Effaclar in Canada is the same version sold in France and not in the U.S.
        – Isn’t Caudalie brand isn’t sold in the drugstores but can be found in Sephora

        I’m pretty confident these products can also be found in Montreal, so cross the border and take advantage of the cheap exchange rate.

  • Nina R. July 24, 2015 at 9:22 am

    As crowded as City Pharma is, it is heaven to me! The price differences in the French pharmacy brands like LRP and Avene are almost enough to pay for a trip! Before Beautylish carried Bioderma, you could pay almost $50 for a 500ml bottle online – crazy! Other neighborhood pharmacies are more beautiful and intimate, but the location and prices of City Pharma can’t be beat. Is checkout now only on the 2nd floor? That sounds crazy! Last year they had several checkouts in a tucked away area on the first floor, although the feeder line snaked halfway through the floor. I wanted to try and get the substitute for Avibon but the lines on the second floor, which is the real pharmacy for the real French people, were so crazy I couldn’t wait. I cannot wait to go back! Looks like you had terrific weather too!

  • Amalia August 9, 2015 at 4:42 am

    Sorry but the european version of La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo acne treatment has no Benzoyl Peroxide and this is the active ingredient for acne. Stay to the U.S version who has 5.5% Benzoyl Peroxide.

    • Amy August 9, 2015 at 9:28 am

      My skin has no love for benzyl peroxide though, gorgeous. Way too drying.

  • Dm August 9, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    If you just can’t get to Paris, a good beauty shopping alternative is escentual.com for french beauty products. The prices are decent and they have sales fairly frequently.