From mad roosters to the smell of farm animals, the “sensory heritage” of rural France will now be protected by law from attempts to stifle everyday life in rural life from newcomers seeking peace and quiet.
French senators on Thursday gave final approval to a law proposed in the wake of several high-profile conflicts by villagers and holidaymakers, or newly arrived mockers as “neo-rurals”.
In particular, a troubled rooster named Maurice made headlines in 2019 after a court in western France rejected an offer to let him be silenced by neighbors who had bought a holiday home nearby.
“Living in the countryside means accepting some inconveniences,” Joel Giraud, the government minister responsible for rural life, told lawmakers.
Cow bells (and cow waste), grasshoppers chirping and noisy early morning tractors are also now considered part of France’s natural heritage, which will be codified in its environmental legislation.
>> Flashback: The rooster’s Maurice victory is a win for rural life in France
“It sends a strong message,” said Pierre-Antoine Levi, the senator who acted as rapporteur for the bill.
“It can serve as a useful tool for local officials when performing their training and mediation tasks,” he said.
The law is symbolic of growing tensions in the countryside between long-term residents and outsiders whose difficult expectations often collide with everyday realities.
Corinne Fesseau and her rooster Maurice became the image of the fight when she was taken to court by pensioners next to the animal’s dirty alarm clocks.
Maurice the tough rooster became an ignorant emblem of rural life in France. © France 24 screengrab
Critics saw the trial as part of a broader threat to France’s sacred rural heritage by outsiders and city dwellers who cannot or do not want to understand the reality of country life.
Thousands of people signed a “Save Maurice” petition, and a judge finally confirmed cock-a-doodle-doos.
In another case from 2019, a woman in the duck-breeding heartland in the Landes region was taken to court by a newcomer neighbor who is tired of ducks and geese in her garden.
A court in southwestern France also dropped that case.