In recent years, in the countryside of France, there have been more and more quarrels and even legal disputes related to the characteristic village sounds and smells, writes The New York Times. The cry of a rooster and the ringing of a church bell at dawn, the rumbling of a tractor and the smell of manure from the nearest stable, the singing of cicadas and the croaking of frogs, the bleating of sheep and the roar of donkeys - what is habitual to the ear of a villager, the townspeople often reject. The mutual misunderstanding was further aggravated by the onset of the pandemic, when streams of urban residents flooded into the villages.
In the Dordogne, a region in southwestern France, a court ordered a couple to drain a pond after neighbors complained of the continuous croaking of frogs. In Alsace, the owner of the stable was sued: the neighbors suffered from dung stench and hordes of flies, and he was ordered to keep his animals no closer than 15 meters from other sites. But the mayor of the village of Le Bosset, when the tourists expressed their dissatisfaction with the too loud crackling of cicadas, in response ordered the installation of a two-meter statue of an insect.
The most unpleasant incident occurred in a village in the Ardèche department. The crowing of a rooster named Marcel so infuriated the man in the neighborhood that he shot the bird. Locals collected more than 100,000 signatures demanding to punish the flayer, and he received a five-month suspended sentence: the court ruled that 6-year-old Maurice (that was the name of the bird) had every right to crow.
In short, passions have escalated so much that last week French lawmakers had to consider a bill to preserve the "sensory heritage of the countryside". It was adopted by the National Assembly, the lower house of the French parliament, back in January last year. And now it was passed unanimously, without amendments, by the Senate - demonstrating the rarest case of complete unanimity of French legislators.
From now on, the sounds and smells associated with the nature of France are an integral part of its national heritage. There is no general list of specially protected sounds or smells, but the authorities have urged local administrations to compile an inventory of the “sensory heritage” of their areas so that people who are going to visit them know what to prepare for.
According to lawmakers, this will give mayors more powers to smooth out pre-trial disputes, and judges - a more solid legal basis for settling court cases. The new law was not passed so that farmers indulge in whatever they want, officials say. The idea is to create a set of rules that everyone respects.