The 10 Best Things You’ll Ever Find at the French Pharmacy That Aren’t Chocolate

It’s no secret that French women have the secret to being the most beautiful people in the world. You come to Paris for a lot things- the museums, the food, the ambiance and of course, to immediately feel bad about yourself. Paris is kind of like Miami in that respect, except with less sparkle and more brooding.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not, in fact, the consumption of copious amounts of baguette or decadent chocolate displays in store front windows- trust me, I’ve done the research and nothing happened except I was very full and very happy. Instead it seems what they say is true: there is just something about French people. They possess a certain je ne sais quoi that allows them to role out of bed with hair you still can’t copy even with all the product in the Western Hemisphere, and trot out the door like a runway model- gracefully gliding over cobblestone streets like little Tinker Bells in 5 inch heels. This is simply not in my wheelhouse.

So, while I can’t equal them in stiletto skills, I can at least benefit from equality in the beauty aisle. Welcome to the world of the French pharmacy. Unlike in America where you’ll find everything from DVDs to candy and eventually the prescriptions and makeup counter, the pharmacies in Paris deal primarily with the latter two. You’ll see them every block or so, their neon green crosses shining bright over the sidewalks beckoning you in.

But there is one in particular, the Holy Grail of pharmacies, located steps away from Café de Flore that’s a bit like falling down the rabbit hole of French beautydom. The place I speak of is none other than CityPharma (cue angelic choir). But get your elbows ready because this place is worse than the Louvre on free museum Sunday. Every. Single. Day. Starting at 8am.

Sigh. It’s worth it though. CityPharma has the best prices and friendly, English speaking staff willing to help lost looking tourists pointing to products on their iPhones. Plus there are two floors (two!) full to the brim of exotic sounding lotions and potions. The lines are often long but move quickly, so don’t be deterred.

paris_city_pharma

Couple of things to keep in mind whilst you read:

1. Misters are really popular here, so be prepared to hear a lot about them below.

2. Just about everything on this list is multi-purpose, so while you may be buying a mister (see above) it will list its other uses as a toner, make up remover, pillow fluffer, head massager, tiny kitten dispenser, etc.

3. I’ll use the word refreshing a lot. It’s not my fault, most of these products are made from natural ingredients so their scent/feeling is legit refreshing. Let’s play a game and count how many times it happens.

4. As a general rule I don’t want my face to smell like a fruit or a flower throughout the day, so I use most of these products at night. That way they can do their work and I can wash them off in the morning.

5. As previsouly stated in the title, there will be no chocolate, but these are the next best things:

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Top 5* Foods Unique to Disneyland Paris

The food scene at Disneyland Paris feels sometimes, in a word, lacking. After all, we are located in the culinary capital of the world. With so many elegant pâtisseries, mouth watering bistros and smelly fromageries just a short RER ride away, it’s astounding that DLP isn’t changing the landscape of theme park foods and pushing the envelope with new (read: delicious) ideas.

Both its American counterparts, Disneyland and Walt Disney World, have cult following foods- dole whips, churros and Mickey ice cream bars to name a few. And yes, I am aware that Paris’ weather report throughout the year reads more cold and rainy than not, so logically speaking we don’t need all those ice cream carts that they have across the pond, but I ask you this- when is a Mickey ice cream ever a bad idea?

With all that said, there are a few notable Disneyland Paris specific goodies worth checking out on your visit abroad.

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Eating Croissant: Suggestions in Enjoyment

The French really have their priorities in order. Laws protect everything from rising baguette prices to mandated Speedos in public pools. These laws are also helpful in selecting which delicious viennoiserie you should be buying from your local bakery. And if at this point you’re asking yourself why anyone would live any where that didn’t have a law protecting the sanctity of the often imitaded, never duplicated, French croissant, the answer is: you wouldn’t.

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March Hare Refreshments

March Hare Refreshments is a small quick service location in Fantasyland serving up snacks, sweet treats and beverages throughout the day. The Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups provide the colorful backdrop for this tiny, thatched roof cottage that becomes quite the popular stop during the afternoon hours. Whimsical chairs across from and next to this humble abode provide somewhat limited seating for your dining needs.

On those few occasions when it is open in the morning, March Hare is a nice stop to pick up a treat or two, since it’s more than likely you’ll be trying your luck at the Fantasyland rides anyways. The crowds seem to overlook it in favor of restaurants on Main Street USA and you’ll seldom find long lines. If you’re in a hurry and just need a breakfast fix, this will definitely fit the bill.

From lunch to early evening it’s a different story though, as guests find themselves in need of a mid-day pick me up. Not to worry, lines move quickly in comparison to other DLP eateries (ahem, Pizzeria Bella Notte) and you’ll be sitting pretty in no time.

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Disney Details

Just like its sister parks Stateside, the mailboxes that you find around Disneyland Paris actually work! And, they get a special Disney postmark. Mail is taken to the post and poof- letter delivery with a pinch of pixie dust.

Café des Cascadeurs

Café des Cascadeurs is a table service restaurant located in Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris. If you couldn’t guess from outside appearances, this little number serves up classic American fare like burgers, chicken and ice cream (but no milkshakes- whaaat??) to hungry guests for lunch and dinner.

Located just outside Lights Motor Action Stunt Show in the Backlot, it’s no wonder the name translates to ‘Stuntman’s Cafe.’ It has a friendly look about it- shiny, O’Mahoney stainless steel body, neon signage and a long line of windows with brightly colored checkered curtains peeking through. It’s 1950′s Americana at its best. And as fate would have it, that’s probably because it hails from a little town in central New Jersey. Our diner arrived in Paris just when WDS opened in 2002, but not before bringing its famous steak and eggs over to Germany. Curious? I was too.

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Dances With Words: An Exercise in French Logic

It was 11pm on free museum Sunday. We had just biked our way through the city of Paris like two crazed lunatics with complete disregard for our appearance or for traffic. Coming out of Musée d’Orsay 15 minutes earlier, we realized that we might actually have a chance at making final call for The Tudors exhibition at Musée du Luxembourg.

Breathless, we ran up the road after parking our Vélibs in their charging stations (I know now, this was our undoing) and toward the line that was, dare I say, manageable at the entrance. Before us stood a French security guard at least two feet larger in both height and girth than all the people that surrounded him. He was speaking with an Italian couple that clearly had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

“But it is only 11.”

Ce n’est pas possible, the museum closes at 12.”

“But it is 11.”

“Yes, but the museum closes at 12.”

“But it is only 11. Why not?”

Pas possible.”

“Can we get in that line?”

Pas possible.

“But the museum is still open.”

“We close at 12.”

“But we still have an hour.”

Non, we close at 12. Ce n’est pas possible, monsieur.”

“Can we just stand in line to see if we get in?”

Non, we close at 12.”

“But it is 11, we can get in if you let us stand in the line.”

“I understand, but we close at 12.”

“We just want to stand in line.”

“No, we close at 12. Pas possible.”

As we watched this exquisite dance of words unfold before us, we could only nod in understanding. A year ago we might have been baffled. There’s nearly an hour until closing, surely we can pop in and have a look. We came all the way out here and there’s still time! The problem with this reasoning is just that: it’s reasonable. Those are all logical thoughts. You’d think the security guard would lean more toward, “What’s the harm in letting people stand in line? If they make it in, great, if they don’t, well, that’s their choice- either way it gets everyone out of my hair and I can think about more important things like how I can crush you with my pinky finger.” It’s less work, you don’t have to argue with tourists- win win.

But you see, all of that does not matter. It does not matter that you have arrived with ample time to join the queue and take a gander at the special exhibit. It does not matter that there is a hour between where you are standing and the doors officially closing for the night. It does not matter that you are making perfect sense in your attempts to persuade the gentleman at the entrance to let you have just a chance at getting in. None of this matters.

What matters is that the museum closes at 12. That is all you need to know. That is all that you will be told. The gentleman at the entrance has spoken. He has decided that you will not make it in. He has decided that if you did, by chance, make it in, you would not have enough time to appreciate the exhibit the way that you should. He has decided that if you did make it in, and you saw the exhibit and then felt that you had seen enough of it to accomplish all of these things in an hour, well, that’s not the kind of person he wants in his museum anyways.

We understood. And after watching this dialogue go in circles for a solid 10 minutes we decided to make our way back to the Vélib station and bike our way home. We took the long way, letting the lights of Pont Neuf guide us through the dark. Down side streets and closed cafés, we laughed. Because at this moment, who else could appreciate what had just happened and when did we get to the place where this all made sense to us? Ce n’est pas possible.

It was an exceptional evening.

Paris Pastries

Tarte Caramel Salé.

You can’t find a lot of American candy in France (and yes, I realize what I just said). I was moderately distressed by the fact that there was not a Junior Mint or York Peppermint Patty to be found…anywhere. It’s not that the French don’t care for the flavor, it’s that if they want chocolate covered mints, they get them hand made in single serving batches by this place. A fair trade one might say.

It is interesting to note what candies do make it over to this side of the Atlantic though- M&M’s of the peanut variety, Snickers and Twix of all things. But after enjoying (understatement of the century) Sadaharu Aoki’s Parisian equivalent of our American milk chocolate staple, I am ruined for life. Never again will I crave the double-stickness of the Mars Twix bar, because I, dear reader, now know what’s out there.

With a buttery sablé biscuit as its base, Aoki then layers on sweet caramel, accented ever so slightly by Guerande fleur de sel. This pool of salty-sweet perfection is then topped with the airiest milk chocolate cream known to man and carefully dusted with cocoa powder. Le Twix, if you will.

Go ahead, dive right in, but be warned: It’s a familiar taste and yet, this particular combination of milk chocolate and caramel is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. You’ll start to question your childhood. You may begin to cry. You understand now why French children do not trick or treat on Halloween- what’s the point when they can get our candy equivalent after the park each day? You’ll slowly start to wonder if you’ll ever look at the candy aisle at Walgreens the same way again. Why would they do this, you ask. Was it better that you didn’t know?

But some things you just don’t question. Some times it’s best just to sit down, stuff your face and be thankful.

Sadaharu Aoki. 6th arrondissement.

What I Know

There are a few things I know for sure.

I know, that if your favorite food is pizza and you move to Paris, your stomach will be sad.

I know, that going to Italy after a year of Frenchified Italian food is a dangerous, dangerous proposition- the very mention of which induces a panic among your skinny jeans, the likes of which have not been seen since you bought that birthday cake for up to 8 people knowing full well there were only 2 of you (and really, just one that liked chocolate sooo…)

I know, that you are not supposed to eat pizza when you go to Venice.

I know, that instead you should be drowning your face in their fresh off the boat seafood every chance you get.

I know, that if I travel to any part of Italy and you say, “No pizza for you,” the fiery death stare laser beams that shoot from my eyes will be your first and only warning that you have crossed a line from which you may not return.

I know, that once you realize this, you will aid me on my quest for the best pizza within the floating city limits.

I know, that that pizza comes from one of two places.

Crazy Pizza in Venice

I know, that the best slices come from Crazy Pizza, in spite of the fact that it’s superbly un-Italian name and generic outside appearance lend itself to the opposite impression.

I know, that the best pies come from Al Nono Risorto and that its in everyone’s best interest to follow that up with their mind-blowing tiramisu.

Al Nono Risort Pizza in Venice

I know, that consuming both of these things will only deepen your disappointment when you return to Paris and order up another margherita.

But I also know, it was totally worth it.

Chandler and Joey's Ceramic Dog on Friends - "I regret nothing"

Restaurant Hakuna Matata

Restaurant Hakuna Matata is a quick service lunch and dinner stop located in Adventureland that offers salads, spiced meats and the infamous Hakuna Fries. Spoiler Alert: they were amazing. It’s a nice change of pace from the standard burgers and fries that seem to be overtaking what should be the world’s most delicious theme park (ahem, Paris pastries anyone?).

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