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Sounds and smells of French countryside protected by law

Created: Tuesday, 02 February 2021 Written by Callum Holmes

From noisy farm animals to the smell of manure, all are now protected by a new law that safeguards the ‘sensory heritage of the French countryside’. It was proposed after numerous high-profile conflicts about noise and countryside smells between villagers and newcomers. Over the last 10 years there have apparently been 10,000 legal disputes, often initiated by those coming from the urban areas with unrealistic expectations of rural peace and quiet.

Some of the most high-profile cases include Maurice the rooster from the Ile d'Oléron, whose holiday home-owner neighbours took his owners to court in an attempt to get him silenced, and holiday makers in the Var who complained that the noisy cicadas were ruining their holiday. It’s hoped that the new laws will put an end to these disputes or at the very least help with mediation.

Obviously each region of France has its rural character, so every department will be able to put together their own inventory of the sounds and smells unique to their area. It could even be included as a document that house buyers are asked to sign! 

Personally, we love the sounds (and even the smells) of the countryside; donkeys braying, cockerels crowing good morning, church bells sending workers to their jobs and signalling lunchtime are all just the gentle punctuation of the day in this engaging and enriching part of the world.