Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Oldest Herb Shop in Barcelona


Barcelona 435The Herbal del Rei or Herbolari del Rei in Spanish, is a stunning gemBarcelona 446
 of a herb shop found hidden in the stone side streets of the ancient Gothic district of Barcelona – walking distance from La Rambla.  It is located thru a side passage near to the Royal Square / Plaza Real in the Street of Glass # 1. or Carrer del Vidre, 1, 08002 or through the street Carrer de Ferran. It was apparently created in 1818 and moved to its present location in 1823, and is dedicated to the sale of medicinal plants and natural products. As one of the oldest shops in Barcelona, thankfully it has been declared a  site of Culture and Local Interest and hopefully it will remain open for more people to visit and enjoy.

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Barcelona 442Inside the herb shop is beautiful and needs to be experienced in person for the full impression ( but you can also click on the pictures for a larger view). Decoration is Elizabethan style, dating back to 1857 – with a glass roof, old spanish wooden hand painted drawers housing ancient secrets, arched wood panels, statues, oil paintings and lovely old watercolors; in the center of the shop is a marble fountain (apparently once used for preserving leeches)  and beautiful hand painted tiles of medicinal plants can be found tucked away throughout the shop and then of course there are the Barcelona 461Barcelona 441herbal medicines stored inside glass shelves. An assortment of Catalan herbal products, spices, dried herbs, beeswax candles, teas, licorice and other natural products are found filling every inch of the shop.

Trinidad Sabatés is the shop owner, who Barcelona 457
was honored as a master on Medicinal plants by the Generalitat de Catalunya. When visiting we were fortunateBarcelona 459 to meet both Trinidad and her husband, who spoke more english and offered a lengthy commentary in both english and catalan (thankfully I had a translator) on the history of the shop and herbal medicine and the unfortunate tight regulations of herbal medicines in Spain.

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If you are planning to visit- confirm their business hours first – (Currently they are only open from Tuesday to Friday from 4 pm to 8 pm and on Saturday from 10 am  to 8 pm) and double check the address (google maps) – as it took 3 separate trips to the area to discover the actual address and then find the shop open (the store hours, shop name and address seem only to be located on the inside of the doors and shutters, only visible Barcelona 453when the shop is actually open)… but that is the fun of discovering new places in a new country. Herbolari del Rei is also on facebook and offers periodic classes and tours through the historical enchanting shop – unfortunately the tours are only in Catalan or Spanish- so bring a spanish friend like I did!

Traditional Herb Shops of Paris

One of the things I love most about travelling is the opportunity to check out herbal medicine shops and products in other countries – especially the old herbal apothecaries of europe. During a trip to Paris, I  had the pleasure of visiting two traditional herb shops: Herboristerie de la Place Clichy and Herboristerie d’Hippocrate.

My search for Herboristerie d’Hippocrate at 42, rue Saint Andre des Arts -75006 ParisP1030077

– occurred during an unexpected torrential spring down pour – as I wandered through the narrow winding cobblestone streets of the Latin Quarter in search of the correct address. As luck would have it, I arrived during their lunch time and the shop was closed – but found a small cafe and warmed up/ dried out while I waited for their 2 pm opening.
P1030089The wait was worth it and the shop was delightful. Numerous species of dry herbs, dozens of liquid extracts of herbal medicines and traditional recipes for various ailments. Antique hand painted herb containers, dried flowers and a high ceiling decorated in a traditional french style.

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P1030086  Herboristerie de la Place Clichy was another delight – the oldest and largest herb shop in Paris- established in 1880 (that makes it older than the Eiffel Tower). The boutique is located at 87 Rue D’Amsterdam 75008 in North Paris.

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I had the pleasure of meeting one of the owners, Nicole, a pharmacist P1030065who had  purchased the shop  in 1993 and we shared stories of herbs and compared experiences from our differing countries. She kindly gifted me a french herbal medicine reference book “La Phytotherapie” by Dr Jean Valnet – a valuable reference text full of traditional french herbal recipes, actions and indications. I am grateful that the Latin names of herbal medicines are consistent regardless of what language and what country one is visiting- thus the book has been a fantastic reference and comparative tool.P1030074

P1030087Exploring the shop I felt right at home looking at the various remedies and herbal blends for numerous ailments such as: Combat les troubles de la Prostate, Combat la Colite, Digestion Difficile, Combat l’Acne. The shop stocks over 900 species of plant medicine in various forms, dried, extracts, aromatherapy, massage oils and hydrosols.

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