Visiting a pharmacy may not be a high priority during your trip to Paris, but if you do happen to pick up a cough or a sore throat on the airplane, you might be surprised to find that OTC cough medications can contain codeine. On the other hand, melatonin, typically used for jet lag by some Americans, cannot be sold in France.
Aspirin combined with caffeine is no longer allowed in France because of the havoc it can play with your stomach (possibly even causing ulcers). Therefore, if you’re a big Excedrin fan (as I am), be sure to stock up before you leave for France. On the other hand, you can buy tylenol with caffeine.
And then there’s the great Red Bull debate. Up until recently, the soft drink Red Bull was not allowed on the French market because of its key ingredient, taurine. After much discussion, Red Bull was finally admitted with the stipulation that Red Bull sold in France must have a lower ‘taurine’ percentage than its American counterpart.
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I’m waiting for the day when Mountain Dew hits France. But, then, one can’t exactly outlaw caffeine in a country where the majority of the people get their day rolling with a strong jolt of Arabica.
Another big issue in France is genetically altered grains and produce. That goes hand-in-hand with livestock ‘beefed up ‘ with hormones. Certainly, it’s easy to understand why both hormones and genetic alteration is bound to have impact on the flavor of what we eat, but on the other hand, France, as well as many other Europeans radiate their food for longer preservation. (When this came up for discussion in the States, there was some talk of labeling food according to whether it had gone through this radiating processing.)
After the mad cow disease created a panic in the meat industry, France began labeling its meat products by ‘country of origin’. This holds true not only for meat, but much of the fresh produce.
>> And if you’re looking for more oddities, why not check out the post about weird French laws!