For the team at BordeauxLife, one of the joys of living in France is a visit to our local parapharmacie. Think Ikea for the body - you go in looking for a bottle of shampoo and come out with a bag full of things you never knew you needed.
For those new to France - don’t confuse a pharmacy with a parapharmacie. A parapharmacie is not allowed to sell you any medicine - nothing, zip, nada - not even a junior aspirin. For that you will have to visit a dispensing chemist - a pharmacy where staff are fully trained and indeed always our first point of call for all our basic medical requirements.
Parapharmacies stock a wonderful array - often at discount or two-for-one prices - of personal hygiene products; baby care products; cosmetics; dietary supplements; hair care products; vitamins etc. Many of these items have almost cult followings, some are not available outside of France or, if you can find them, you will undoubtedly pay considerably more.
See below for just a small selection of our favourite products
Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse
This oil contains seven plant oils and has wonderful hydrating properties. Free of preservatives and 98% natural - we use it on everything from top to toe!
Caudalie Huile Solaire
Not only does this smell gorgeous, it offers sun protection along with hydrating and anti-ageing properties. It’s a little less greasy than the Nuxe Huile and gives your skin a wonderful post sun-bathing glow.
Ahh - who can live without the marvel that is Biafine. Like many who have made the move to France - this product has been a revelation. We use it for everything from stove top burns to sunburn; soothing rashes; keeping wrinkles at bay (note to self: use more); scarring from minor grazes - the list is endless. No self-respecting French household would be without a tube of this in “that'' kitchen drawer.
Another skin-rescuing tube of dreams. Enriched with plant extracts and Vaseline to soothe dry hands, calm light burns and skin irritations. Many use it as express-plumping lip balm or an overnight mask for dry lips - ideal for those long haul dehydrating flights (if we ever get on a plane again!).
Dry Shampoo Klorane
An absolute essential for the busy working Mum or for a quick spritz before that last minute invitation to an evening out. It’s very gentle and doesn’t leave the residue that some other dry shampoos can - ie you don’t end up looking like you’re heading out to a Halloween party.
La Roche-Posay Disinfectant Hand Gel
If you can get your hands on this (pardon the pun) as it is selling like hotcakes at the moment for obvious reasons, it’s definitely the best antibacterial gel around, soothing and moisturizing. Expensive compared to other products on the market but absolutely worth it.
The list is endless, from Avene to Bioderma, the Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc range (their hand creme is a life saver in the winter) and all Caudalie products - not just well priced and lovely to use but a by-product of the wine industry and local to Bordeaux.
Two of the best Bordeaux city centre parapharmacies (combined with a pharmacy) and both open on Sundays (bonus!) are Pharmacie Principale, 10 rue Saint Catherine and Pharmacy Grand Hommes, 1 Place des Grand Hommes.
What are your must have parapharmacy favourites? We’d love to know.
Blogs At BordeauxLife
A mostly light-hearted look at life in South-West France