First, where: Pharmacies are scattered all over Paris. During business hours, you are likely to spot one within a few blocks of wherever you find yourself in the city. Just look for the distinctive green cross logo. “Local” pharmacies, targeting residents of the nearby blocks are typically rather small and may not have everything in stock, but there also exist a few larger ones (see below).
Many pharmacists can act as common-sense doctors, so if you simply describe your symptoms, they'll be able to recommend a medication. Quite a few things that would normally require a prescription in the U.S./Canada can be bought off-the-shelf in France.
Prices may vary quite significantly – entering one of the smaller pharmacies off the poshest streets in the 8th arrondissement, for example, you can be excused for thinking that boxes have been mislabeled as they occasionally show prices that are a multiple of what the equivalent would cost in the U.S. or Canada.
This is why, if you are staying for more than a few days, it probably makes sense to take a trip to one of the lower-cost (and larger-stock) pharmacies, such as City-Pharma (26 Rue du Four, 75006 Paris). Incidentally, this pharmacy is based more on the the American “drugstore” model than on the “boutique” model that is the standard elsewhere in Paris.
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