The Herbalist's Shop

Stepping into the herbalist's shop, one of the 15 remaining herbal pharmacies in France, takes you back to the days of the 1880s when the store first opened.  The smell from the 900 different types of dried leaves, flowers, and roots is slightly earthy and sweet, yet comforting in some primeval way.  When more people enter the already crowded store, the customers tease that it is becoming as popular as those on the Champs Elysées. 

Mr. Raveneau, a pharmacist who specialized in herbal medicine at Montpelier University, explained that, whereas modern medicine can destroy the body's equilibrium and provoke unwanted side-effects, his goal is to respect the human body and to try to achieve equilibrium. 

The herbalist's storeroom is stocked with medicinal plants from around the world that are collected by professional gatherers in such diverse places as Provence, Africa, China, and Australia.  The plants are crushed and then macerated in 96% (192 proof alcohol), the best solvent to extract all of the active properties to make the tincture. 

As one of the four remaining herbalists in Paris, Mr. Raveneau is passionate about his profession and worried that it is a dying art, particularly because of a new European Directive limiting the sale of herbal products, the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive, that will come into force on April 30, 2011.   

This extremely informative tour was organized by the company, Meeting the French.  As mentioned in my earlier post about the hat maker, I really want to be able to recommend their services to my visitors and I will, with a few disclaimers.  Even though the tour was offered as an English speaking tour, Mr. Raveneau does not speak English and Meeting the French did not provide a translator.  Fortunately, a very kind Frenchwoman, Mariette, offered to translate for the 4 English speaking people.  Additionally, the tour was supposed to be limited to a maximum number of 8, yet there were 11 participants.

Herboristerie de la place Clichy
87 rue d'Amsterdam
75008 Paris

In spite of my disclaimers, I'm going to continue taking tours with Meeting the French because they provide access to the hidden parts of Paris that are proving to be of the most interest to me.


  1. Mary Kay. If you're interested in herbal medicine, you might like to read "Des Hommes et des Plantes". Someone gave it to me 35 years ago and I found it fascinating. I have moved so many times since then I've got no idea where it got to.

    It's probably out of print but I googled it and second hand copies seem to be available for just a few Euros.

  2. Kiwi-di: Many thanks for reading my blog and for posting!

    And thanks for the information about "Des Hommes et des Plantes". It sounds very interesting. I'll look into getting a copy of it.

    My interest in herbal medicine dates back to when we lived in Indonesia and tried some of their traditional remedies. Now scientists are studying the benefits of some of the ingredients, like tumeric.

    There were two women from Hong Kong on the herbalist tour and they asked if he used insects in his medicine because traditional Chinese medicine also uses things like scorpions.

  3. I have so enjoyed your photos . this is something i so enjoy doing also. a picture of a branch, a old book, a old person, a child at play . A old wheel in the grass of Sweden. The memories of life. ; ) dreamsinme

  4. Anonymous, I'm glad to hear that you enjoy the photos. I agree that it's the seemingly small things that make life pleasurable.

  5. Can you say where this shop is? The address I mean


  6. Simon,

    The name of the shop is Herboristerie de la place Clichy and the address is 87 rue d'Amsterdam, 75008 Paris.

  7. L'etude des plantes recommence fortement en France voir Le Chemin de La Nature sur instagram

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