This was a curiosity to me at the beginning. My pharmacist in the United States was whomever was on duty at the 24-hour Walgreens, and I only ever talked to him/her after I'd made my purchase and he arrived at the window to ask me the required-by-law-question, "Do you understand how this medicine works?" End of relationship.
Not so here in France. Your pharmacist is your go-to guy. Whenever you have a problem, ache, or pain, you check in with him first before you do anything else (I'm using the masculine version because mine is). Then you get to recite all your problems and ask his advice on what to do. If he thinks you need to see a doctor, he'll tell you, but he's got all sorts of stuff in his arsenal for the first assault.
What is interesting about all this is often he will give you a homeopathic remedy. The pharmacies not only carry manufactured medicines, but they carry herbs and tinctures and essential oils, which they DO recommend if they think it's right for you. I love this.
I do not love the way medications are packaged. I swear, the medication industry here in France must produce more waste than any other (aside from the bottled water industry). Everything is packaged in blister packs, then boxed. Nope, no giant bottles of 1000 generic ibuprofen here!
These are my feminine vitamins...my youth in a box, as the package says.
The French are also very fond of individual sachets, which is a package of powder that you mix with water. They always taste pretty good and might go well with vodka.
Prescription drugs are the same. They are not measured out and put in a bottle, the exact number for your prescription. You need to buy the whole box whether you need all of it or not. As a result, French medicine cabinets are not a just a little shelf in the bathroom. They are generally an entire, overflowing kitchen cupboard devoted to all the leftover boxes filled with the individually wrapped surplus pills. The trick is figuring out what they're all for when you need them again.
I've been down the last two weeks with what seems to be a sinus infection. Oh, ouch. It's like waking up every single day with a massive hangover that cannot be cured with Coke and a package of Kraft Mac and Cheese. During a complaint session on my woes, my friend Lynn asked me if I'd talked to my pharmacist. Oh yeah, I forgot about him!
Because my magic lamp is not called a Neti Pot. It's called a Rhino Horn. I proudly showed my new medical miracle to some friends the next day. Tenley, whose neti pot resembles the one above, looked at it and simply exclaimed, "Oh my!" My other friend wanted to know if...it came with batteries!
Hmmm...how do you suppose I would ask my pharmacist that question???