Journalist Celia Walden has revealed she and her husband Piers Morgan were burgled while they slept in their rented French villa on the Cote d’Azur.
The incident happened early on Thursday morning, shortly before the couple were due to leave to return to the UK.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Walden said she went downstairs and found her handbag upside down on the sofa and her jewellery box empty beside it.
She said she felt a “stomach-plummeting sense of violation”.
The author and columnist described the thieves as “depraved and despicable” and “inhuman”.
Walden said the jewellery stolen wasn’t particularly valuable but it was “irreplaceable” – the thieves took an art deco ring which her husband had given her as an anniversary present, plus some vintage items she had bought herself.
“I knew the second I walked into the sitting room that something was wrong,” Walden wrote.
“The previous night had been spent getting our rented house ready for checkout – but the place was a mess.”
She said she “felt sick” when she realised her “up-turned handbag found in the sitting room had originally been on a chair in our bedroom.
“They must have crept in there and stood inches away from us while we slept.”
Walden said police told her they believed the culprits only left the villa minutes before she came downstairs, after hearing her press the snooze button on her alarm.
When she asked why their laptops and phones had not been taken, the police replied that thieves in the area are generally more interested in cash as technology is now “too easily traceable”.
Walden added the police told her thieves “do the season” on the French south coast, and that they were most concerned with the drones many burglary victims had seen flying over their homes days before break-ins, including one her husband saw a week before they were targeted.
It’s not yet known if any arrests have been made.
Morgan and Walden, who married in 2010, returned the UK before new quarantine measures were imposed people arriving from France at the weekend.
While the UK’s Foreign Office warns of thieves and pickpockets, particularly in Paris, there is no reference to holiday home burglaries.
The south of France hit the headlines a few years ago when some celebrities holidaying there said they had been victims of “gassing”.
They included former Formula 1 driver Jenson Button, former Arsenal footballer Patrick Viera and TV’s Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine.
The technique, which Walden referred to in her newspaper piece, allegedly involved criminals pumping anaesthetic gas into homes so they could steal more easily.
But the UK’s Royal College of Anaesthetists have said such a technique would be “nearly impossible”.