4 Mar 2021

No Taking For Granted: Note To Self

Taking For Granted on vickiarcher.com

Do we take the small and large of life for granted?

I like to think I don’t, but I do and I have.

It’s not intentional and if anything the last year has taught me to open my eyes wide,  to observe and to remember. I say remember because forgetting is just about as bad as taking for granted. I took for granted, not always but sometimes, my ability to flit into Europe on a whim. Paris tomorrow? No problem. Simply jump on the train and fast forward 2h 15mins and there is Gare du Nord. So, so easy. Prices were agreeable with a whim and even better with some planning. One of the joys and the spoiling features of living in London is the proximity to Europe, whether it’s a train journey to Paris or a quick 90-minute flight to Italy. I am missing this luxury.

You never know what you had until it’s gone has never been truer. I doubt travel will be easy for some time and I am sure there will be all sorts of new rules and regulations for moving about.

Thinking about Paris reminded me of the French pharmacy. The French pharmacy is one of life’s truly great pleasures. It’s an Aladdin’s Cave and a treasure trove for all that we women love. The spring jumps into the step when walking towards the giant green cross, entering those magical doors and picking up one of the little baskets. I have a few particular spots I frequent in Paris and even though most of everything is available online these days, nothing is as good as a browse through their aisles.

I thought about the French hotel lobbies.

You don’t need to stay at the best to experience the best. There is something about them, where the florals are installations rather than arrangements and the glamour is off the charts. The people-watching is usually first-class, as riveting as any Netflix production, even if it’s not what locals may describe as “real” Paris. It’s nevertheless an enchanting experience. My shortlist is the same now as it was 20 years ago; Hôtel de Crillon, Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Hotel Georges V, Le Bristol Paris and Le Meurice. Hôtel Ritz Paris is my least visited since the major renovations a few years ago. The hotel is no doubt beautiful and in need of an update but I do miss the former elegance and splendor.

I stocked up on a couple of French pharmacy gems last week – not as good as a Parisian jaunt – but this little brand is one of the best-kept secrets. I use the eye treatment as a feel-good most days; it sits on my desk or in my handbag to relieve tired eyes. In the summer I even leave it in the fridge for an added cool down. The cream is my all-rounder go-to and it is either by the bed or in my handbag. I use it as a general body, hand and everywhere treatment if I need an addition to my everyday skincare routine.  I’m trying the vitamin c version now. Love.

A squeeze of this and a dab of the other are about the closest I’m getting to Paris today. xv

No Taking For Granted

embryolisse original lait cremè concentré  ||  embryolisse with vitamin c  || embryollise radiant eye treatment  ||  and here

this feature contains affiliate links

image, Hotel Georges V, Paris

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Just reading your narrative Vicki took me back to those three months I spent in France. I will never forget when I first arrived; I saw those lit up green crosses everywhere and being a native of the USA and never having been to Europe, I remember thinking, “Why are there so many pharmacies – are there a lot of sick people in these communities?” After quick and intense observation of the culture (LOVE), I just learned that they are part of the landscape but unfortunately, never perused the many pharmacies within such close proximity of one another. Now I wish I had. It must be similar to entering and perusing the aisles of a “quincaillerie” where you not only find what you need for your bricolage, but treasures of great craftmanship that dazzle the French home décor Francophile. My kitchen has a perpetual beauty treatment of French copper pots, hanging utensils and tea towels that were purchased in one of these “Aladdin’s Caves.” You just gotta love France.


Yes, you do!!
I have found such treasures in both these kinds of stores… not to mention flea markets!

Linda B

This post comes about 36 hours after my husband and I sat with our very dear neighbor friends out on the patio, having after dinner drinks–and found ourselves talking semi-seriously of a trip to Paris in a few months. . . We’ve all been vaccinated now, and it suddenly seemed possible to dream of this. I was even thinking of some of your favorite places, Vicki! In the sober light of day the next morning, I could still feel the thrill of that fantasy but it doesn’t seem possible to travel that far, quite yet. But things are hopefully headed that way. (The four of us will be staying stateside for sure by late summer, to welcome another round of new grandchildren into our families in August.)

In the meantime, maybe an order of lovely French products will be soothing. . . I think so. . .


I’m hopeful by this summer we will be on the move too, Linda… at least for us throughout the UK… I can’t wait :) Exciting to be welcoming new grandbabies… so, so wonderful …


I think the longer we are in lockdown that the simple pleasures we maybe took for granted are coming to the forefront of my mind. I keep thinking of the deep blue crystal clear sky of Provence and how just lying back and gazing at this gives so much comfort and relaxation. It’s not cost anything but does have a simply calming effect and is always the colour I revert to when doing a focus in yoga. I was lucky to get to Provence last summer and I messaged you about a Darphin product; you kindly replied with the recommendation also mentioning the fabulous Intermarche pharmacy we frequent!!! It’s a little treasure trove of goodies from named brands to very French brands and I always combine both when purchasing to take home. I always have the Embryolisse cream to take back as it’s such a reliable product to use. But it is the experience of carrying a basket and finding all the other little offers there, are especially in the summer months, which is special. There are always some fabulous assistants to point these out too who will willing wrap any ‘cadeux’ so expertly and beautifully. Then when I think I’m ready to leave I am handed an array of samples! Just a perfect hour or so can be spent in a French Pharmacy!! Fingers crossed that with the vaccination programme happening in many countries now we will all be travelling safely for holidays before long.


That is one amazing pharmacy, Janet! I miss that… Yes, I hope we will be on the move this summer … I’ll need some sun and sea by then!


Travel to beautiful places, so missed for so long! I agree with you about French hotel lobbies – awesome!
We still have reservations for the UK end of May but are concerned it won’t happen just as it didn’t last year. My brother can’t even get into the UK from France yet (they live near Carcassonne) to visit family. We may be looking at an Autumn visit instead. I’m so homesick – last year was probably the first time in 58 years that I haven’t visited home!!!
Here’s to the weekend, which of course isn’t really any different than the rest of the week these days! Hope London has sunshine as do we at long last.
Hugs – Mary


We are not allowed into France as yet from the UK… or Italy… but hopefully, it opens up by the summer. Yes to sunshine, it makes everything better… it’s not looking hopeful yet!

Marion de Ranitz

Dear Vicki,
I so agree with you! I am missing Paris so much that sometimes it is making me cry..


I’ve not missed all the tiring travel for work & in many ways being in my own bed each night for a year has been a snuggly treat. But as you know, travel to Europe these past few years has taken me right out of my comfort zone & that has been what I’ve missed the most. The heart stopping moments, the moments of grace, the happy tears moments, the moments of gratitude & even the scary stuff while travelling alone. It will happen again & we have all those brilliant Scientists who have worked so hard to develop the vaccines to thank for it xx


I like to say I don’t but I did until the pandemic seems endless .From month to month I taught myself to be grateful for everything I have and appreciate all the little things.
But…to be content with little is difficult; to be content with much, impossible. However
to travel to Paris and get spoiled in one of those A-list hotels would be beautiful in spring.

Donna D

Bonjour Vicki
Oh..how I too am missing travel, and my annual sortie to France. My last visit (Oct 2019!) I recall I neglected to stock up on a few of my favourite French items but was lazy on that last day and thought ” I have enough to get me through until my next visit”. Then Covid hit and yes I too took travel for granted. Am looking forward to having the vaccine and will have one in each arm if it makes the process faster! I LOVE France and miss it sooo much….and will never take my beloved travel for granted again.


I have had part 1 … so can’t wait to get on with it :) I do think we will travel differently … maybe fewer trips but longer… certainly in my case I think that will happen. I don’t miss the regular commutes to Heathrow that much… just the destinations!


Absolutely agree about taking annual travel for granted. We’ve been going to Paris every year for at least five-six weeks for years. Often with additional travel to the Riviera and Provence. It was just part of our normal life. So hard to miss it last year and probably this year too. The vaccines have only recently arrived in Oz and it’s going to be at least a month before we can get the first. Then a wait of three months for the 2nd.
I believe that entry to France (except in special cases) is currently restricted to EU citizens. The situation is just too unpredictable for us to think about travel there this year. Not with two long haul flights from Oz! Certainly Qantas isn’t flying there in the immediate to mid future and I don’t think BA is either from Sydney.
But I’m so pleased that our local pharmacy in Canberra is beginning to stock some French pharmacy skincare brands. I think I’ve raved so much to the owner about how good they are and let him try some I’ve brought home from Paris that he’s put his foot in the water to see how they go here. A bit more expensive than in Paris of course. But wonderful to just walk in and ask him to order them for me. He has an Oz stockist. But I miss the Paris shops too, especially LBM. And being able to walk 10 minutes to our favourite local terrace bar and Alain Ducasse bistro and look out on St Eustache and the trees of the Nelson Mandela Gardens.
Best wishes


I am glad you have a pharmacy to find your goodies Pamela and hope we are all back in the air very soon… Paris and all her splendour await. Le Bon Marche… that must be my favourite :)


Hello Pamela

May I have the details of the Canberra Pharmacy please that stocks the french products…wonderful!


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