Strepsils, Olbas Oil, TCP: Find French equivalents to common remedies

Moving to France means navigating pharmacies and hunting down alternatives to treat everyday ailments

Finding equivalents to tried-and-tested remedies can be tricky when you are used to certain brands

One of the joys of moving to France is discovering the amazing variety of pharmacies, and the services they offer. 

In many cases, it also means discovering new household remedies for common ailments.

Some, such as Alka-Seltzer for heartburn and indigestion (also hangovers!), are readily available in French pharmacies, but finding equivalents to other tried-and-tested remedies can be tricky. 

We take a look at some of the alternatives:

Olbas Oil

Olbas Oil is available online from French websites. 

A more interesting approach, however, is to seek out a herboriste who specialises in plant-based remedies – often, but not always, associated with a pharmacy. 

Here you can ask about the essential oils, including clove, mint and eucalyptus, that are contained in Olbas Oil. 

You could end up with some personalised recommendations.

Sudafed nasal spray

Sudafed nasal spray contains xylometazoline hydrochloride. 

This is a vasoconstrictor that narrows blood vessels and can increase blood pressure. 

There are growing concerns about its cardiac and neurological side-effects, and remedies containing it are increasingly regarded with unease in France. 

For an equivalent, try Actifed Rhume Jour et Nuit. 

Otrivine is another nasal decongestant containing xylometazoline.

Read more: ‘Medicines to avoid in 2024’ list published by French medical review

Eumovate skin cream

Eumovate skin cream for eczema and dermatitis can be replaced by glycerine/vaseline/paraffin cream. Ask for crème glycérol/vaseline/paraffine

It comes in a large plastic tube costing around €3 and has no specific name. 

It is made by a variety of brands but the contents are all identical, so just get the cheapest. It can be incredibly effective.

Euthymol toothpaste

Euthymol toothpaste is available on French websites. 

A very similar product, dentifrice eucalyptus, is available from Argiletz as well as from organic shops, health stores and herboristes. Some pharmacies will order it for you. 

Read more: What are the French equivalents of some common UK medicine brands?


Strepsils are available in France, but many people turn to Hexalyse for cough sweets. 

With a pleasant orange flavour, they contain an antiseptic (biclotymol), an anti-inflammatory (enoloxone) and an enzyme to soothe your throat.


When it comes to Germolene, the trusted antiseptic in France is Betadine Dermique, which comes in a yellow plastic container costing €3 to €4. This is what hospitals use before operations. 

The range includes mouthwash, surgical scrub and solution gynécologique

Betadine Dermique also comes as a gel costing around €5 to €6 per tube.


TCP is not sold in France and there is no direct substitute with the same ingredients. 

People in France prefer specific remedies for specific problems. 

The Betadine range will, however, do 90% of the same jobs.


Lemsip can be replaced by Fervex powders, which contain paracetamol, an antihistamine, and vitamin C. 

To replace Beechams powders, which contain aspirin instead of paracetamol, try Aspégic.

Vaseline Lip Therapy

Finally, the tiny round metal pots of Vaseline Lip Therapy, which are readily available everywhere in the UK, can be bought at Saga Cosmetics. 

Find your nearest branch here.

Shop around for the best price

Note that when it comes to price, some over-the-counter remedies can be more expensive in France. This is because they can only be sold in pharmacies, rather than general shops.

To get low prices, it is essential to shop around. 

Every area has one or two cut-price pharmacies where you can restock your first-aid box. 

Normandy-based website, for instance, sells 30x100mg aspirin tablets for €2.88.

Asking for generic versions often brings the price down.

Have you found any good equivalents in France? Let us know at