Monday, October 19, 2009

Protectionism


Now and then I get quite fed up about living in France. One of those times are trips to the chemist. You lot in the UK take so very much for granted*. You can buy things at supermarkets for which us lot have to visit the chemist or get on prescription.

The anti-histamines available here are all the first generation ones that make you sleepy. I honestly do not know how the French person suffering from hay fever could ever hold down a job. I've now worked out that if I take an anti-histamnine at 2pm it will also act as a sleeping pill; it just means that the morning sneezing and itchy eyes have to somehow be endured.

You cannot get any analgesics at the supermarket. The medical sections in the like of Carrefour or Intermarche are devoted to condoms, plasters and mouthwash. Forget about picking up a packet of paracetomol - for that you have to try and find a place to park outside one of the two pharmacies in the busiest part of town.

The pharmacists have been a little worried here lately. There is some movement, some fiendish plan afoot to try and deregularise a lot of the things that only they are licensed to sell. Oh no, they say, it will affect our livelihood. We couldn't possibly let customers buy things at supermarkets instead of coming to see us trained professionals*.

Well I say I don't need the French pharmacies because I've discovered Chemist Direct. I much prefer shopping online anyway. I would willingly never visit a shop again if I could buy everything that I needed with a click of a button. I do rather think that I'm on a list of people whose parcels are opened and investigated by customs though. So much is arriving with the yellow tape of La Poste around it, opened - it is claimed - because it was not very well wrapped. The thing is though that I just don't believe them.


*On a similar note, there is nothing over here like Vision Express or Spec Savers. If you want to get some new glasses you have to book an appointment with an opthamologist with approx a two month waiting list. He (and it is still usually a 'he' over here) will then test your eyes and give you a prescription which you will duly take to a spectacle shop. Yes, living here is somewhat reminiscent of olde worlde times.

28 comments:

A Super Dilettante said...

I thought buying pills after lunch at the chemist only happen in the French films! But I can't imagine surviving without anti-histamnine (non-drowsy) in summer. I think it is a good job that you found an online option. Please see my reply to your comment (in my blog). I had some communication problem with a Chinese herbalist!

Dumdad said...

"Now and then I get quite fed up about living in France."

Oh, I agree wholeheartedly with this statement! And about chemists in general over here. I stocked up on paracetamols when I was in England this summer by casually dumping them in my basket while at Waitrose.

Lady Fi said...

Same problem here in Sweden... we can only buy aspirins, anti-histamines etc. at the pharmacists, which of course, do not have the extended opening times of a supermarket. So, god help you if you get a headache at the weekend!

Even worse, we have to go to special government alcohol monopoly shops to buy alcohol.

willow said...

Oh, gosh, I take so many things for granted here in the US. Not only can I buy the non-drowsy 24 hour Claritan, I can buy it in generic form, at the grocery store!

Moannie said...

Thank you for that little wake up call, I do tend to glamorise our lives when lived in France and there are so many things I still miss-but yea I remember well the rather awful smelling supermarkets,late lunches, monday closing, and how the doc would give six prescriptions for a bad cold which usually included putting something up the bum [sorry] but just can't think of the name-ah yes, suppositories.

Steve said...

But to speak in favour of the French for one moment I'm sure some of them launched a campaign to get chocolate recognized as a health food and given out free on the health service. That redeems everything in my opinion.

marc aurel said...

And yet WHO found that France had the best health service in the world. Canada was way down at thirtieth.

Veggie Carrie said...

I noticed a lot of homeopathic remedies in Brittany. When I go to visit, I do feel like it's a step back in time too (but am sometimes shocked to hear modern music!).

Completely Alienne said...

Back to the 50s eh? You could always stock up next time you are visiting the UK - I have a shelf of ibuprofen and antihistamines in the kitchen so we always have them handy when we need them. Or do they shake you down when you get off the ferry/train?

lulu labonne said...

And I got all hot under the collar when I visited a bristol supermarket recently and dropped a pack each of Aprin, paracetamol and ibuprufen in my basket, the nice lady was so concerned that I was on a suicide mission that she made me choose just one...

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Prescriptions by mail are what we have here -- so much less complicated than having to take them to the pharmacy. Hope Chemist Direct has everything you need!

the fly in the web said...

French chemists, French doctors....you pay for the consultation to get the prescription, then pay over the odds at the chemist.....travelling miles in my case because the project to have a local shop collapsed thanks to the monopoly regulations in force on where chemists can set up shop.
France makes me spit at times.

Mark said...

I think sometimes the grass is always greener... I could lament about Wales but deep down I like it.

That said, I so agree about shopping on the internet. This Christmas I want do as many purchases on line if I can.

But then you see, on Saturday I went to see local glass blower, and his works were fabulous. So I might make an exception there.

French Fancy said...

ASD - to see the French in the chemist is like watching me in a shoe shop - their eyes light up and they don't know what pills to buy first. I've seen it in every pharmacy I have ever gone into here. They are obsessed with their livers.

Dumdad - sometimes it just gets to you, doesn't it. Occasionally we say 'let's go out to a bar for a drink' and then we drive around trying to find one that looks warm and inviting - and we just go home again. In Paris you have all those lovely art deco and nouvea style brasseries - here in the French sticks we have these dark little spaces full of old alcoholics

Ladyfi - how interesting that alcohol is controlled like that. Do they keep tabs on how much everyone is drinking that way. They could probably do with that here.

willow - the online chemist I linked to has the generic medications - I can get my anti-histamines for 29p a box of 30, which is the same as Claritan or Piritol or all the others. It's fabulous.

Moannie - I know without any shadow of a doubt that if we were to return to the UK we would miss being out here very much. It's like anything - you always want what you haven't currently got - like decent cinemas that show films in the language in which they were made, BOGOFs at the supermarkets, fun things to do in winter etc etc

Steve - our doc advocates dark chocolate and red wine - have a small amount of each daily and it will do you good - that is his mantra.

((our doctor))

marc - I've blogged about this very subject not so long ago. The French are rightly top of the WHO - you never have to wait to see a doctor or specialist, when you get to see them they are efficient and quick, people diagnosed with cancer have the top chance out here of surviving and surviving with good health. But the little niggly things like not being able to buy cough linctus at the supermarket does get annoying

Carrie - they are obsessed with homeopathic remedies out here. To avoid upsetting anyone who believes in them I will refrain from putting what Mr FF and I think of them :) (the remedies, not the people who believe in them)

CA - the only time my bag was searched thoroughly at the airport, my case was full of M&S sausage rolls - we all had a good laugh and they let me take them through.

lulu - aren't they daft about limiting quantities? As if a potential suicide couldn't just drive around buying up what they needed from all the chemists. My suicide of choice would be sleeping pills and booze I think.

flyintheweb - oh no, you've got no local shop - that is awful, simply awful. I'm a 10 minute walk away from the centre of our town which even has two shoe shops.

Mark - oh yes, I love to visit the studios of the local artisans and if in a rich time of my life buy their one-offs (not very rich atm). But for mundane stuff I just love buying online

ContemTroub - You Americans and Canadians have things like this down to a fine art. I am very pro- North American lifestyles (but you probably guessed that already).

Carol said...

I think you find that where ever you live!! It all balances out in the end but when your having to go from pillar to post to get what you want it can be very frustrating!!

Bangkok was a bit like that....I never did get used to handing over the credit card before having any hospital treatment or having to pay before being allowed to leave....in saying that, the service was excellent and the hospital was more like a hotel than a hospital. Swings and roundabouts!!

C x

Ayak said...

Quite the opposite here in Turkey. We can buy absolutely anything over the counter in pharmacies..and there are so many of them..you never have to walk far to find one. In fact I have on occasion bought antibiotics here when I'm due a trip to the UK to give to my daughter because it's faster than her waiting for an appointment.

We have a similar procedure with new spectacles in that we have to have an examination by the opthamologist to obtain the precription to take to the spectacles shop. However it's easy to see an opthamologist without an appointment on the same day, go to the specs shop, and have new specs within a couple of days...even varifocals etc.

In fact we rarely have to make appointments for anything...doctors, dentists, hairdressers etc...just walk in and wait.

Jennysmith said...

Poor Sweetie, Husband gets hay fever quite painfully like you.

Love your picture of the shop and the town, fabulous depth to it xxx

Dedene said...

It will be nice when we can get aspirin at the supermarket. France is still very old-world. I guess that's part of the charm (and frustration).

mrwriteon said...

On the other hand, when we were in France and I was suffering from a nasty sinus infection the clerk at a Pharmacie in Grenoble suggested certain nasal spray that we couldn't get at home and it worked like a charm.

Ken Devine said...

MIL has boxes of parcetamol prescribed so we haven't bought any in years. Yes, France can be a headache sometimes I suppose, but on balance I know where I'd prefer to be.

I like to hear of consequences of living outside the UK and especially in France.

Rob-bear said...

Novel Canadian notion -- pharmacy/chemists shop right in the supermarket. Best of both worlds. There are things you can get over the counter, and they'll fill your prescription while you do your shopping. Quite civilized, actually.

French Fancy said...

I just did a load of replies to the last lot of people and it disappeared.

sigh - I hope people don't mind me not reposting it. It is a bit difficult to sit down for very long today.

Phil Lowe said...

I would forgive them anything for the fancy green flashing cross outside. Dunno why but I just love them.

I have used the chemist in Bordeaux several times on visits. Because my French isn't fluent I have had to mime everything from savage blisters, the trots,toe nail scissors and gut ache. Thankfully I have never had to ask for use a suppository! The very thought!

cheshire wife said...

I was interested to see the Chemist Direct website. Although we do have a lot of medicines available to buy over the counter in the UK, sometimes so many questions have to be asked it feels like the Spanish Inquisition. It does not make sense, to me, to make medicines available to buy then make it so difficult for customers to actually buy them. I had not realised that the system in France is so restricted.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

~I recall that it is very peculiar to try to buy feminine requisites in pharmacies in la belle France, whereas here they are on sale, and not as expensibe, partout...

I always feel that there are pros and cons to wherever we choose to live, FF... Everywhere. Of course, if you ever need anything, I am always willing to act as a post-box for you, if you are not en trajet to the UK... Just saying... xox

French Fancy said...

Phil - I'm having a laugh imagining how you mimed 'the trots'. And could you stand comfortable whilst you did so?

cheshire wife - if you take something simple like Fervex, which is the French version of Lemsip - We've both got colds and going to buy some the other day was a real performance of trying to park. Why is something like that not sold in the supermarket?

AWONI - lady stuff can be got in supermarkets now - I didn't know it once was only pharmacies that sold the likes of them. Thank goodness - that saved me a lot of moaning!

Not Waving but Drowning said...

It drives me crazy sometimes!

GG

French Fancy said...

Doesn't it just! As does battling with URSSAF which seems to be an ongoing thing atm - they are making such errors