The other day, I noticed that I was running out of contact solution. The last time I was in France, I remember having bought some at an optical store that was located in the Passage du Havre, near the Gare Saint-Lazare. I think it was even a two-pack, and I don’t remember how much it cost…maybe something like 20-25€. Which of course is more than you’d pay in the States (something like $8 a single pack?), but I have come to expect that for most things here.
Today, I decided to go out and buy some more solution before I ran out completely. I had it in mind to go to the Passage, but the -2°C temperature and the little snow flurries whirling around made me change my mind and try to find something closer to home.
I should have known when I walked into the sleek, upscale optician’s, and saw two employees dressed to the nines, with their expensive suits, shined shoes, and silver cuff links, that whatever I bought there was going to be overpriced. Sadly, I was so focused on getting the language right, that I didn’t even realize how much money I forked over for one lousy bottle of contact solution. Before I knew it, I had handed him a 20€ bill, and he handed me my change: two 2€ coins. I walked out and realized, holy crap! I just paid 16€ for that bottle of contact solution! That’s like…$22! Twenty-two buckaroos. Ouch.
Before that, had I stopped in to Monoprix for a quick look-around. I knew they wouldn’t have it, because grocery stores don’t sell over-the-counter medication or other medical products like contact solution. You have to go to a pharmacy for that. Chances are, the pharmacy near me would have had what I was looking for. But I was already walking in the other direction, and I made a beeline toward the first green optician sign I saw. Next time, I won’t be so hasty.
There are other [better] ways
When I got home, I did a quick online search: “où acheter otpi-free express” (“where to buy…”), hoping for a better result. Among the hits, I found this useful site, which showed a bunch of places from which one can order contact solution.
It made me feel a little bit better that there are some sites selling this item for the same amount that I paid. But there are definitely cheaper options, even with shipping costs! Next time, with a little planning ahead, I could just order it online and have it sent to me. That would be much easier on the mind, and on the pocketbook!
When you live in another country, there are a ton of different products. Sometimes, you just don’t know which are the good brands and which ones will leave you disappointed. Living in another country makes you re-learn certain things, such as where you can (or can’t) buy ___________________ (fill in the blank). It probably helps if you have contact with natives, who can tell you where you can get things. This time around, my connections with actual French people are few-and-far-between. (C’est un peu dommage….) But the longer you stay in a place, the more you learn. Now I know a little better.
Life lessons learned.