France to City Folk: Deal With Sounds of the Countryside

Senate passes law to protect rural areas' 'sensory heritage'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2021 8:30 AM CST
France Makes Move to Save Its 'Sensory Heritage'
Maurice's singing days are over, but other roosters like this can now crow all they want in rural areas of France.   (Getty Images/IsaacRuiz)

In an attempt to stop rural French neighbors from being at each other's throats, France has just passed a law to protect the nation's "sensory heritage." What that means, in essence, per CNN: Weekenders visiting from more urban areas won't be able to stifle most typical smells and sounds of the French countryside if they're annoyed by them. The legislation got the green light on Thursday from the French senate, according to Minster for Rural Affairs Joel Giraud, who notes regional officials will determine each area's "rural heritage, including its sensory identity." The law was prompted by a series of lawsuits between year-round countryside residents and tourists or those with weekend homes, who often complained about animal sounds and odors.

Perhaps the most famous representation of the tiff between France's city folk and country dwellers was Corinne Fesseau's rooster Maurice, whose crowing irritated a retired couple living behind Fesseau on the island of Oleron; they only came to stay at their second home there for a couple of weeks each year, per Atlas Obscura. The couple put in a noise complaint, but in 2019, a judge decided Maurice could crow all he wanted. WION notes that other protected sounds under the new law include that of cicadas, frogs, church bells, and tractors. Giraud gave a shoutout to the now-deceased Maurice in his announcement on the legislation. "A posthumous victory for the Maurice rooster, symbol of rurality!" he tweeted. (Will the law save this couple's frogs?)

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