The mayor of a village in the Gironde département in south west France has requested that the Ministry of Culture issue heritage site protection to rural sounds including cockerels, church bells ringing, donkeys braying and cows mooing.
And his quest has taken off to such an extent that a French MP is preparing to table a bill in the National Assembly.
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Church bells could also be protected. Photo: AFP
Bruno Dionis du Séjour, mayor of the small village of Gajac which houses 400 people, told Le Parisien that his request was in response to an increasing number of cases of people moving to the country then complaining about the noises of rural life.
He told the French newspaper that there had been “an accumulation of complaints from people who decide to settle in rural areas and bring cases before the courts in the name of so-called sound attacks”.
He believed the solution is to add rural noises like animals and church bells ringing to the Inventaire du patrimoine culturel immatériel en France, or list of France's intangible cultural heritage.
He said: “If we get this ranking, it will be a guarantee for a farmer not to find himself in front of the judges because his cows moo too much before being fed or because his donkey brays during the hot season.”
The move comes after several high profile cases of people complaining about the noise in the countryside.
In 2017 a cockerel called Maurice found himself at the centre of a legal storm after holidaymakers on the island of Oléron in Charente-Maritime took his owner to court over his excessive crowing. Hundreds of neighbours signed a petition in support of the noisy rooster, arguing that the sound is an integral part of living in the countryside.
Last year the mayor of a village in rural Lozère received a request from an angry tourist to stop the church bells ringing at 7am, as she said they were disturbing her holiday while at the same time a group of noisy mating frogs caused a legal headache for the owner of the pond in the Dordogne where they were conducting their amorous activities.
British second home owners in the French Alps have also taken legal action against the noise of cowbells in their village.
The register of 'intangible cultural heritage' is intended to protect certain quintessentially French things, in the same way that the historic buildings register protects sites of special cultural interest.
Some of the things currently on it are French gastronomy, the Corsican songs sung at Granville carnival, and the perfumes of the Grasse region.