Monge pharmacy, open from 8am to 23pm, offers exceptional prices on pharmacy and drugstore goods throughout the year. Pharmacie Monge stocks a wide range of products in its 400-square-metre store, offering more than 200 brands, including Sisley, Clarins, Avène, Caudalie, Nuxe, Darphin and Payot cosmetics. An immediate tax refund (15% discount) is given on purchases from €175. Pharmacie Monge consultants speak Korean, English, Portuguese and Chinese and are trained in welcoming clients from abroad. Samples and free gifts are offered according to availability. Pharmacie Monge is easily accessible; it is located in the historic center of Paris, in place Monge, in front of the place Monge metro station exit.
While some tourists fly to Paris to visit the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower, many Korean tourists are choosing to flock to a small pharmacy in the fifth arrondissement of Paris instead, reports Quartz.
According to French magazine M, Pharmacie Monge serves about 1,000 customers from Asia each day, and most of these Asian customers hail from South Korea. Now, why are Korean tourists heading to this one pharmacy in Paris when Seoul, alone, has hundreds of cosmetics and vitamin shops? Apparently, they come for the on-the-spot tax refunds, the warm customer service and wide variety of 20,000 dietary and cosmetic products.
In the mid-2000s, pharmacy owner Alexander Freyburger noticed the surge of Asian customers and decided to hire multilingual speakers. Out of the shop's 50 employees, pharmacists or sale consultants, nine speak Korean, three Cantonese or Mandarin and one speak Japanese, Mmagazine says.
It was a smart business move as one of the store's employees Jessy Cornu, who is fluent in Korean and trained in cosmetology, notes that sometimes the products recommended on online tour guides did not always suit the customers' needs. With the help of bilingual sales consultants, it's easier for the customers to find the right products.
"In Korea, the vendors are very aggressive from a commercial point of view. Consumers are also influenced by [what they see] on the Internet and social media," said Jessy. "At first, they are a little surprised that we do not routinely offer them the most expensive or newest product."