savonThe French pharmacy is legendary for its trove of affordable beauty treatments. The French droguerie may sound like a drugstore, but it’s a pharmacy for the home.

The advice is what makes it special. Sure, there are mom and pop hardware stores in the U.S. and elsewhere where the owners know every detail about every product they sell, and they are more than happy to take the time to teach you.

baking-soda
Baking soda…not to be found in the sugar/flour aisle.

But more and more, consumers go to gigantic retailers that sell everything for a few pennies less, and where the minimum-wage employees have zero training about what they’re selling. Yet for a few centimes more, the droguerie offers invaluable advice with your purchase.

Most of the stuff in the droguerie can’t be transported on a plane in your suitcase. A few products–savon de Marseille, pierre d’argent–are safe, though.

exteriorI went into a Carcassonne Caoutchouc, a droguerie in Carcassonne (caoutchouc means rubber) recently to find a solution (in more than one sense of the word) after a young visitor had an accident on our sofa. I spent half an hour going over various products with the vendor. Ammonia was good, and I was given detailed directions as to how to use it. An organic spray was new–expensive but made in France, in Toulouse. I bought both. The spray worked great, by the way.

sprayThey also sell …. everything. Hardware, though it isn’t a hardware store, called a quincaillerie–one of the most musical French words, in my opinion, all the more wonderful for its unglamorous meaning. Pots and pans. Oilcloth by the meter. Bead curtains to keep flies out of the house. Tools. Bug spray. Shopping caddies. A rainbow of dyes for clothes.

shelvesThe clothing dyes, as well as medicines, originally were the base of the drogueries’ trade.

dyes

It’s the sort of place you’re apt to pass by, especially if you’re a tourist. But inside, you just might find something more useful to take home than another souvenir T-shirt.

 

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27 thoughts on “Home Remedy

  1. I love love love these stores! And there is nothing like them here. My big block of Savon de Marseille has been cut into pieces, with friends and family all wanting some. It is amazing…..stuff! I bought some small, very specialized curtain rods at one of these small stores in Apt many years ago; again, they just don’t make or sell that kind of thing here. Hmm: maybe it’s worth another trip over there????

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    1. Savon noir: black soap, made from olives. Good for everything, though there are different kinds for the skin vs. house.
      Natural bug repellent. Cleans all kinds of floors (wood to tile to marble to carpets). Cleans furniture, including leather. Cleans glass. Cleans the bathroom.
      The body soap is used in hammams for “gommage,” which is a kind of sticky exfoliant.
      Here’s a link: http://www.consoglobe.com/savon-noir-soin-corps-entretien-ecolo-2969-cg

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      1. I have marble kitchen counters and I seal them every year (in summer, when the windows are open because it’s certainly not healthy). The product is called Terrazo Sealer Bouche-Pores. Ask your droguerie!

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  2. I have always loved to explore grocery stores, drugstores, and hardware stores (by whatever names) when I travel abroad. Thank you for this very interesting post!

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    1. That’s great! Purple is more fun than gray.
      I only recently discovered the wonders of fabric dyes. Our outdoor seat cushions were faded, but the fabric was still good and new ones feel so cheap. So I dyed them and they look like new. Now I’m going to do the same with all my “tired” black clothes. BTW you ought to come down here to escape the cold. It’s been around 20 Celsius. Very gray but balmy.

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      1. A whole “new” wardrobe is just what I have in mind. I will try it soon–was waiting to get out my tired black sweaters for winter. I’ll let you know. But my blue cushions were a huge success.

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  3. I love drogueries – sadly they are getting more difficult to find, and the droguerie rayons in the big supermarkets are a travesty! If you want to dye a black item a different colour you would first have to remove the black. Depending on the dyestuffs used, you might be able to do that with bleach or colour run remover. Good luck in any case!!

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  4. Here in the US, my sister uses Rit to pep up the dull black in her clothes, so I am sure it’s not too difficult, or she wouldn’t do it. Some dyes are more suitable for specific fabrics or fibers like cotton, so it would be good to check the label for that information.
    I want to add that I have seen similar shops traveling as well, which are loads of fun to explore, finding one in a remote neighborhood of New York on a trip there too.

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