If the last thing on your mind when staying at a glitzy Paris hotel is having to worry about getting bitten by critters, think again.
A Paris hotel group head has admitted that even high-end hotels in the French capital are affected by a pest infestation that’s getting worse across France.
France’s bed bug problem has seen the number of cases go from 180,000 to 400,000 in just two years.
In 2018 alone, there were 100,000 bed bug infestations in Paris, according to the French Union for Pest Control (CS3D), a scourge that is now also affecting the capital's hotel industry.
As one TripAdvisor user commented about their stay in a Paris hotel last November: “Bed bugs, no handling of the matter and no treatment. You’re better off sleeping in your car”.
“It’s traumatizing hotel managers, we talk about it among ourselves, but timidly” Jean-Marc D'Orx, general president of Ile-de-France’s Hotel Union, told Le Parisien.
“The hotelier is a victim in this kind of case. It's not that the hotel is dirty, but it has welcomed people who have brought the bed bugs with them.
“When a room is infested, you have to change all the bedding, the mattress, the bed frame, it can cost anywhere from €300 to €10,000 depending on the category of the hotel.
Aside from these big financial losses (not fully covered by insurance according to D’Orx) and the effect bed bugs can have on a hotel’s reputation, hotel managers also have to close their establishment until new beds have been delivered and pest controls carried out.
In fact, since 2018 any landlord with a rental property in France that’s found to have bed bugs or any other parasite infestation (cockroaches, rats etc), has to cease letting it out, or face a fine of €50,000 to €100,000 for not doing so.
“In Canada, pest control treatments are mandatory when a tenant departs, but unfortunately this is not the case in France,” French housing and social inclusion group Si Toit Lien told Le Monde.
This has resulted in countless unwitting tenants in France having to deal with a serious health and housing problem from the moment they move into their new home.
According to the French Union for Pest Control, 92 percent of French people have at some point found pests in their homes.
But bed bugs – called ‘punaises de lit’ in French – aren’t just being found in beds.
“It’s horrible, even when you’re sure they’re gone you see them everywhere,” a north American reader in Paris who asked to remain anonymous told The Local.
“The cinemas have a problem with them so you start avoiding places.
“You throw out everything that’s part of your bed including the mattress, even though they say all you need to do is wash beddings at 90degrees and it should be fine.
“The pest control guy I got was great. It cost €450 for him to come three times to fumigate. The main problem at my place was the carpet.
“So on top of the cost of fumigation there’s also the expense of staying a night or several nights at a hotel, which often has to happen.
“The fumigator told me bed bugs were by far his biggest business, way above cockroaches and mites, and that he couldn’t keep up with demand despite not advertising.
“The French blame Americans for bringing them over…I got them from an American friend who travels a lot. Bastard.”
The Local's Paris based editor Ben McPartland said: “A neighbour in my block just dumped their mattress in the street after realising it was teaming with bed bugs. They were everywhere. It was stomach-churning.”
Bed bugs are 7mm-long insects that feed on human blood, usually at night. Their bites can result in skin rashes, allergic reactions and psychological trauma for the person trying to sleep.
After having almost disappeared in the 1950s, bed bugs (Latin name Cimex lectularius) have proliferated in France in recent years.