From crowing roosters to the whiff of barnyard animals, the "sensory1 heritage" of France's countryside will now be protected by law from attempts to stifle2 the everyday aspects of rural life from newcomers looking for peace and quiet.
French senators on Thursday gave final approval to a law proposed in the wake of several high-profile conflicts by village residents and vacationers, or recent arrivals derided3 as "neo-rurals".
A rowdy rooster named Maurice, in particular, made headlines in 2019 after a court in western France rejected a bid to have him silenced by neighbours who had purchased a holiday home nearby.
"Living in the countryside implies accepting some nuisances," Jo?l Giraud, the government’s minister in charge of rural life, told lawmakers.
Cow bells (and cow droppings), grasshopper4 chirps5 and noisy early-morning tractors are also now considered part of France’s natural heritage that will be codified6 in its environmental legislation.
"It sends a strong message," said Pierre-Antoine Lévi, the senator who acted as rapporteur for the bill. "It can act as a useful tool for local officials as they carry out their educational and mediation7 duties."
The law is emblematic8 of growing tensions in the countryside between longtime residents and outsiders whose bucolic9 expectations often clash with everyday realities.
Corinne Fesseau and her rooster Maurice became the image of the fight when she was brought to court by pensioners10 next door over the bird’s shrill11 wake-up calls.
Critics saw the lawsuit12 as part of a broader threat to France's hallowed rural heritage by outsiders and city dwellers13 unable or unwilling14 to understand the realities of country life.
Thousands of people signed a "Save Maurice" petition, and a judge eventually upheld the cock-a-doodle-doos.