When you get sick in France, expensive water is not the cure!


February 17, 2013 by kittynh

I was travelling in the Avignon region of France with my husband one Spring, when what was a small case of the sniffles became a horrible racking cough.  I was able to sniffle along, yet the coughing was loud and annoying enough people were beginning to look at me as if I had the Black Death.

My husband, who was there for work, was not at his best having stayed up

All was not peaceful for anyone in Avignon...

No one was happy in Avignon…

most of the night with a pillow over his head to drown out my coughing, so he could try to sleep. When I suspected he was contemplating putting the pillow over my head, I suggested we go to an Drug Store and get whatever the French equivalent of Nyquil was.

We found an Apothecary shop in Avignon, and while waiting for the pharmacist I attracted the attention of everyone in the small shop with my American sized cough. The pharmacist came over to help, and my husband with his good (and non coughing) French asked for a “really strong cough medicine!”  My own limited French could not possibly have heard the words “whatever will knock her out so I can get some sleep”, but that sure sounded like what he said.

The pharmacist then made a big mistake.  She took us over to a wall with the word “Homeopathie” on it.  She picked up a bottle of pretty colored water, and told us a price that was enough for a Le Car.  I told her, my French was good enough for this, that I wasn’t paying that for “bottled water”.  My husband pointed out we could buy a truck full of Perrier or Volvic water, and it would not cure my cough.

The pharmacist then apologized.  She said she agreed with us about the

Very expensive European water!

Very expensive European water!

homeopathic medications, but that her customers demanded them.  She also said that tourists are hard to prescribe safely.    She also said she was not as familiar with the US names of medications (for instance Tylenol was known as Panadol when we lived in Brussels), and there was a danger of drug interactions.  She said to be safe she went with the placebo effect, and suggested homeopathic medications.

ahhh, no problem sleeping after I get the French version of Nyquil....everyone was happy!

ahhh, no problem sleeping after I get the French version of Nyquil….everyone was happy!

The pharmacist sat down with us and went over my medical history. I could understand her wish for safety, and her limited English could certainly have been a problem if my husband had not been so fluent in French.  Even so I wished she took the extra effort to help her customers, no matter what language they spoke.  I ended up taking  a medication she recommended that certainly had a lot of alcohol in it, and had that wonderful Nyquil kick that allowed both my husband and myself to get a goods night sleep.

5 thoughts on “When you get sick in France, expensive water is not the cure!

  1. Ken Everden says:

    I’ve recently returned from two weeks in Avignon where I developed an annoying cough. I then started to notice that a lot of other people had it too. I finally put it down to something in the air, probably tree pollen, as it got far worse when I walked through certain tree laden squares. As soon as I left, the cough was gone.

  2. Hello,
    I’m from Switzerland, we don’t have NyQuil here but a thing called MediNite, which seems to do more or less the same thing. Problem is, I’m living in France now, and neither product is available. Since I stumbled upon your post for that very reason, would you care to share the name of the French medication that you got? I’m sick (like, literally) and tired of not being able to sleep, and I don’t want to spend a million bucks on tablets or other medicines that simply do not work. If the thing you got had the same effect as NyQuil/Medinite, then I WANT IT TOO. Ha! So if you can help, it would be great.

  3. khek says:

    Well, I was wondering the same thing as the previous person — what’s the French version of Nyquil? — and couldn’t find the answer. I went to a pharmacy and came back with “Actifed” Jour et Nuit. It has more or less the same ingredients as Nyquil and Dayquil.

  4. Cory Linstrum says:

    This article would be helpful if you told us what the medicine is called. I’m dying of a cough and fever and they gave me some homeopathic garbage.

    • kittynh says:

      I drank a lot of honey and tea, but sorry, I have forgotten the medicine. I did see a REAL doctor and be warned, they enjoy giving medication that is….given in the suppository form! Yes even for a cough and it worked well!

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