France has passed a law protecting the "sensory heritage" of its rural areas, in the face of complaints about noises and smells typical of the countryside.
From the crowing of roosters to the distinctive barnyard whiff, France’s countryside sounds and smells are now officially protected by law. The move came following an increasing number of social conflicts between long-term residents of rural communities and newcomers looking for peace and quiet in the countryside.
Among the most emblematic cases involved a rooster called Maurice, who was put on trial in 2019 after neighbors complained about the cacophony of his early morning crowing. The court, however, ruled in the favor of Maurice, rejecting the neighbours’ complaints of noise pollution and ordered them to pay around $1,200 in damages.
"He is a rooster. Roosters have the desire to sing," Corinne Fesseau, who owned Maurice, said at the time of the trial. "That is the countryside. We must protect the countryside," she added.
The case came to symbolize growing divisions between rural and urban France as the neighbors were city-dwellers who only visited their holiday home in the village a few times a year.
Christophe Sueur, the local mayor, told CNN the verdict was "common sense," adding: "I am all for preserving French traditions. The rooster cry is a French tradition that needs to be preserved."
As part of the new law, regional authorities will be tasked with defining “rural heritage, including its sensory identity,” said Joël Giraud, the Minister for Rural Affairs. “It’s a real victory for rural communities,” he added. “Do your part, let’s preserve the countryside.”
A lovely story from last summer is worth mentioning encore une fois. Under a scheme, called “Watch over my parents” (Veiller sur mes parents), families can pay from €20 a month for postmen and postwomen to check on their parents during morning rounds. More countries should adopt this great French idea...
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