Bugged Out: Tales From Renting Houses In Rural France

I will continue renting houses in rural France even though it never fails that I have an encounter with a big bug or creature. I’m a city girl and I HATE BUGS. I’ve encountered my share of scorpions, geckos, big spiders, bats, daddy long legs, crickets, and more—in my house, under my bed, crawling up my leg, walking across my chest, and staring down at me from the corner of the ceiling. There were so many adventures in my French countryside rentals that many nights I couldn’t sleep.

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Adventures Renting Houses In Rural France

Gecko sculpture

The encounters with the various insects, lizards, and spiders happened in houses that were in the French countryside usually with no other houses nearby, or in a very small village surrounded by farmland. Many had been renovated but still retained the authentic charm and look of a French country house.

This post isn’t to dissuade you from renting a house in the French countryside. I have loved the homes I’ve rented and would do it again. One of the advantages of renting a house in smaller villages or out in the countryside is that the prices are significantly cheaper than getting a hotel or renting a place in a big city, like Paris. But you should be aware that you’ll likely encounter some creatures like I did. So, why not be prepared?

[For the sake of brevity, I’ve grouped all scorpions, bats, spiders, geckos, crickets, and daddy long legs into one term: BUGS!]

1. Baby Scorpion In Provence

This might be the home we stayed at in Gordes.
This might be the home we stayed at in Gordes.

During my first trip to France, my parents, sister and I stayed with family friends in their place in Gordes, in the Luberon massif of southern France. It was a home built into the side of the village so there were a lot of stone walls. I wrote a thank you letter to dad about the trip when dad turned 91. [Post: Thank you, Dad]

My sister and I shared a room where she (the eldest) got the bed and I (the youngest) got to sleep on the floor. As we turned in for the night, I looked up at the ceiling and saw a baby scorpion looking down at us. Of course we freaked out. It happened over 40 years ago and I don’t really remember my parents or family friends removing the scorpion. I think we were told if we don’t bother him/her, we would be fine. I can’t believe I even slept that night.

Lavender in Provence

While there was a pot of lavender on the window sill, I guess it really didn’t prevent the scorpion (hopefully there was just one) from entering the house. It is said that scorpions don’t like the flower’s fragrance and find it too strong. However, they also seek out cool places which is why it was inside the house. We were in Provence in August and it was very hot. It’s doubtful you’ll find a scorpion in Normandy as they like the warm climate of the south. Just don’t hold me to it.

2. Creatures At Our House In La Rouvière

Courtyard at the house in La Rouviere

My first house rental was in La Rouvière, a very small village close to Nimes in the Gard department. For 2 weeks my friend and I stayed in this lovely house with 3 floors, 2 bedrooms, a rooftop terrace, and a courtyard with a barbecue. [It was my Trip #5 to France]. This house has always been a favourite rental because it was so perfectly decorated. Unfortunately, we had many encounters with creatures: a scorpion, a bat, a bird, spiders, and a daddy long legs. (Oh, and there was a bug of some kind that I saw in the kitchen cupboard. After the day I discovered it, I refused to open that cupboard again.) 

(a) Spiders, Not Bed Bugs

One morning my friend Laurie woke up with little bites all over her body. They were itchy and back in the 1990s, there wasn’t really talk about bed bugs. To this day, she still believes they weren’t bed bugs because the bites started the day after the sheets had been changed by the couple who were caretakers of the house.

We think some spiders hopped on the sheets, perhaps when they were on the clothesline drying and they ended up snuggling with Laurie at night. We visited the local pharmacist who gave her some calamine lotion to help with the itching.

(b) Bat Swoops Down On Laurie

Poor Laurie. Another incident. Late one night we were walking to the village depot to drop off our garbage and then to make a phone call. This was well before cellphones were used. There was just a phone booth in the centre of town. After dropping off our garbage and making our calls, we walked back to our house. Along the way, a bat swooped down towards Laurie’s head. I don’t know why s/he was after her but it got close to her head. We ran screaming back to the house!

(c) Bird Makes A Surprise Entrance

Living room in house in La Rouviere

After returning home from a day’s outing, we would often head to the living room, write in our journals and listen to music. We had a surprise visit during a quiet moment late one afternoon.

First,  a surge or puff of soot came out of the fireplace. Then a sparrow flew out, hitting the French doors between the living room and kitchen. It struggled frantically to get out and finally flew out through the kitchen doors. We were pretty speechless after that and hoped there were no additional birds (or other animals) hanging out in the fireplace.

(d) Daddy Long Legs

One evening while reading in my room, a daddy long legs hopped on my bed and started to walk across my body. I screamed for my friend, pleading with her to come to my bedroom to kill the bug. [Yes, we shouldn’t have killed it but should have just sent it on its way outside]. Those who own cottages encounter them all the time, but as I said, I hate bugs and I’m a city girl.

(e) Scorpion Hangs Out At Dinner

Our dinners usually took place in the courtyard entrance to the house. When you opened the doors to the complex, the first thing you saw was this courtyard and it was lovely. It had a barbecue, a large table, flowers, stone walls, and…..a scorpion that hung out on the wall. It stayed away from us and visa versa.

The house is no longer available to be rented; however, the Gard department is a wonderful place to stay. One of the places I’ve stayed is near Pont du Gard. Here are some of the places to consider if you’re interested in the area:
Gard Department Hotels And Homes

3. A Spider, “The Size OF A Buick”- In Bonnieux

Airbnb in Bonnieux

A few years ago I rented a lovely apartment that was connected to a farmhouse near Bonnieux. It overlooked a vineyard and was certainly out in the country. [It was Trip #33 To France when I spent 2 months travelling around the country, especially in the south of France.

The apartment was renovated and very clean; however, one day I was sitting on a chair arranging my luggage and all of a sudden I saw a really large, black spider crawling up my leg. I can’t remember if I killed it or captured it and put it outside (after I screamed). I did write in my journal, “I pray there aren’t any more” and that it was “gigantic”.

Annie Hall Movie

The incident reminded me of the Woody Allen movie, “ Annie Hall”. Annie (Diane Keaton) asks her friend Alvy (Woody Allen) to come over to her place because there’s “a big, black spider in the bathroom!”

Annie says, “… you know how I am about insects…I can’t sleep with a live thing crawling around in the bathroom.”
Alvy takes a tennis racquet from the closet and heads to the bathroom.
He comes out and says, “Honey, there’s a spider in your bathroom the size of a Buick”.

That’s what I always think of when I think about that spider. It was the size of a Buick.

The apartment is currently not available; however, there are other properties on the outskirts of Bonnieux worth considering. It was an easy walk for me into town and one afternoon I also walked from Bonnieux to Lacoste. You’re in the heart of the Luberon and Bonnieux is the perfect base for exploring. Check out the properties in Bonnieux here: Bonnieux Hotels And Homes.

4. Gecko And Cricket In Gordes

Gite near Gordes

One year another friend and I rented a gite that was located outside of Gordes, in the countryside again. [It was Trip #12 To France]. There were two bug incidents: a gecko in the shower and a cricket in the bedroom.

(a) A Small Gecko Takes A Shower

Judy decided she couldn’t deal with the gecko, who was probably just innocently waiting to take a shower and she insisted, “You have to get it!”

I replied, “Why me?”

I proceeded to scoop up the bug (okay, lizard) in a cup, ran out the front door and threw it into the garden. We prayed it wouldn’t come back; however, there were no screens on the windows!

(b) A Crafty Cricket Sneaks Into Our House

Cricket, broom, running shoe at the gite near Gordes

Then there was the cricket that had somehow gotten into the bedroom.My friend tried to use a broom to sweep this second bug from the bedroom, through the kitchen, and out the front door. Somehow, the cricket started running around the kitchen, so she threw MY SHOE at it!

Why my shoe? Why not hers?!?!

Anyways, it departed quickly and from then on, we kept the door to the house closed.

La Bastide des Chenes Gordes
La Bastide des Chenes Gordes

The gite that I rented is not longer available; however, I have stayed at Résidence Prestige Odalys La Bastide des Chênes. It was just outside of Gordes and was great. (And come to think of it, I didn’t encounter any bugs!). My apartment was part of a bigger complex that also had a pool. It had a kitchen, sitting area, decent-sized bathroom, terrace, and a large bedroom.
Check out the best prices here: Résidence Prestige Odalys La Bastide des Chênes
There are many other properties in and near Gordes that you might consider: Gordes Hotels And Homes

5. Gecko And Cricket Make A Visit In Murs

House in Murs France

I rented a lovely house outside of Murs—which is a small village not far from Gordes in the Luberon. [This was Trip #28 to France]. The house was definitely in the countryside. There were horses and trails nearby but it was pretty remote. The first time I stayed there I needed the owner to meet me in town so I could follow her in my car to the house.

(a) Gecko Hides Underneath My Bed

Bedroom in Murs house

One day I was in my bedroom and I saw it. A gecko sitting on my clothes, on my bed. It looked at me. I looked at him/her. It ran under my bed and decided to stay there. I think he crept in the previous night because I had left the French doors open.

I had a decision to make: leave it there with the chance that it could run across my body or INTO my bed as I slept, or, try to get rid of it. After an hour, I gave up trying to catch him. I lived with him for the rest of my stay and pretended he wasn’t there.

Out of sight = Out of mind?

Then one day, when I returned from a day’s outing, he ran in front of me in the kitchen. I almost stepped on him but he ran into another part of the house. Perhaps he was trying to escape. I felt sorry for him. Maybe we were bonding.

(b) A Cricket Hops In

Then another day a cricket entered the house and started hopping all over the kitchen. Of course, I freaked out. I got the broom and I swept him out. In hindsight, I should just have taken advantage of my resident gecko as I later learned that they feed on a variety of insects, like crickets.

Here’s the property on Airbnb. It’s only 7 kilometres from Gordes:
Tranquil house in nature Gordes Luberon Provence

If you don’t think geckos can jump on you, think again. I forgot to mention that when I was in Aigues-Mortes, just east of Montpellier, there was a cute little gecko on one of the medieval city walls. According to the notes in my journal, he was about 3 inches long and it suddenly jumped on my chest as I read one of the city signs. No note about whether I screamed.

I guess it’s amazing that I keep renting houses in rural France—considering the odds are that I’ll encounter a bug of some kind. But in the end, my love for France is stronger than my fear of bugs, lizards, or bats.

Have you encountered little critters in any of your house rentals in France? How did you cope?

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Gecko. Bugged out in rural France

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