French Language Blog

En Garde! Pharmacies Are Always Open! Posted by on Aug 12, 2015 in Culture

Getting used to French working hours is pretty easy. You just need to plan ahead a little bit, and you can always find small things that are still ouvert (open) to hold you over if you’re caught in a long holiday.

I was fine with all of that and working with the French schedule, until I needed des médicaments (medicine) on a Sunday. Waking up one Sunday morning not sure how I would be able to get des médicaments was not a fun way to start the day. I was already sick, but I knew I could get over it with the right médicaments.

J’étais convaincu que (I was convinced that) I’d need to suffer through the day and just wait for lundi matin (Monday morning). After some research, I learned about les pharmacies de garde (emergency pharmacies).

Understanding the importance of l’accès aux médicaments (the access to medicine), des pharmacies take turns being open le dimanche (on Sundays). De cette manière (in this way) there is always une pharmacie ouverte nearby.

I knew “24 hour culture” didn’t exist in France, but was happy to learn la pharmacie de garde includes night services for emergencies. Even though you wont find a supermarket on every corner ouvert 24 sur 24 (open 24 hours), there’s always something open for an emergency.

I also found the useful website,, for finding the closest pharmacie de garde. Choose your département et ville (department and city), and it will show you which pharmacies sont ouvertes.

On that fateful dimanche, once I found la pharmacie de garde, I was able to get des médicaments and was feeling better by the afternoon!

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.