Why are Dordogne’s noisy frogs embroiled in a bizarre legal battle?

An almighty row continues to rage in the Dordogne and at the centre of it is an army of noisy frogs.

Why are Dordogne’s noisy frogs embroiled in a bizarre legal battle?
Photo: AFP

The croaks of discord began when a couple in the southwest region of Dordogne were taken to their court by their neighbours who were furious at the racket being made by frogs in their garden pond.

Now they face hefty fines if they don’t fill in their pond and remove the frogs, but if they do fill in the pond, they face even bigger fines and the possibility of being sent to jail (more on this later).

Why such a fuss about mere frogs?

The neighbours of Michel Pecheras and his wife Annie, who live near the village of Grignols, complained that the noise made by the 30 odd frogs in their pond was unbearable, in particular during the mating season that lasts from April to June.

Can frogs really make such a racket?

Apparently so. The neighbours had an expert come and measure the noise that they could hear from their open windows. The croaking reportedly reached 63 decibels, or the equivalent of the din made by a washing machine or a vacuum cleaner.

What happened when the case went to court?

The disgruntled neighbours won the case when it made it to court about five years ago, and the Pecheras were ordered to fill in the pond to put an end to the frolicking frogs. The ruling said that every day beyond the deadline for filling in the pond, they could be fined 150 euros.

They appealed the judgement but last December the ruling was upheld.

That seems pretty straightforward then – the couple merely have to fill in the pond and the matter is at an end?

No. These frogs are not just any old frogs – they are a protected species, and they are blithely sharing their lives in the pond of contention with several other protected species. So if the Pecheras do fill in the pond, they would be breaking environment laws and face two years in prison and a €150,000 fine.

Is there any way out of this kafkaesque legal situation?

The Pecheras plan to keep fighting. With the help of local environmental groups they  have contacted ecology minister Nicolas Hulot to try and get him to intervene, and are also looking at other legal steps they might take.

And they have launched a petition on, and it looks like their plight has sparked a lot of sympathy – nearly 140,000 have signed it.

About 150 people turned up at the Pecheras' garden last Saturday in a show of support for the beleaguered couple.

Video: France Bleu Perigourd/Facebook

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France taken to European Court over divorce ruling that woman had ‘marital duty’ to have sex with husband

A case has been brought against France at the European Court of Human Rights by a woman who lost a divorce case after judges ruled against her because she refused to have sex with her husband.

France taken to European Court over divorce ruling that woman had 'marital duty' to have sex with husband
Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP

The woman, who has not been named, has brought the case with the backing of two French feminist groups, arguing that the French court ruling contravened human rights legislation by “interference in private life” and “violation of physical integrity”.

It comes after a ruling in the Appeals Court in Versailles which pronounced a fault divorce in 2019 because of her refusal to have sex with her husband.

READ ALSO The divorce laws in France that foreigners need to be aware of

The court ruled that the facts of the case “established by the admission of the wife, constitute a serious and renewed violation of the duties and obligations of marriage making intolerable the maintenance of a shared life”.

Feminist groups Fondation des femmes (Women’s Foundation) and Collectif féministe contre le viol (Feminist Collective against Rape) have backed her appeal, deploring the fact that French justice “continues to impose the marital duty” and “thus denying the right of women to consent or not to sexual relations”.

“Marriage is not and should not be a sexual servitude,” the joint statement says, pointing out that in 47 percent of the 94,000 recorded rapes and attempted rapes per year, the aggressor is the spouse or ex-spouse of the victim.