'Enter at your own risk': Mayor of French village warns holidaymakers about rural sounds

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 18 Jul, 2019 Updated Thu 18 Jul 2019 15:44 CEST
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Holidaymakers complaining about the sounds of the French countryside have driven one mayor so far up the wall that he has taken some rather unusual action.


What with complaints over noisy cockerels and loud cows to deafening cicadas and ear-splitting church bells, many tourists seem to find it impossible to get  a moment's peace when surrounded by the sounds of rural France. 
And now one mayor has decided to take action. 
Régis Bourelly, mayor of the picturesque town of Saint-André-de-Valborgne in the southern Gard department, has put up signs informing holidaymakers that they are entering a French village and are therefore likely to hear the sounds of, well, a French village. 
The notice says: "Warning French village. Enter at your own risk" followed by a list of the kinds of sounds people might hear, including church bells, cockerels and farmers working "to give you food". 
Could the sounds of rural France soon gain heritage status?Photo: AFP
Bourelly's move comes after several high profile cases of tourists, both from large French cities and abroad, complaining about the noise in the countryside.
One of the high profile cases has been that of a cockerel called Maurice, who has 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.
Similarly, 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.
Tourist asks village mayor to silence church bells during her two-week holidayPhoto: Stanze/ Flickr
The problem has become such that back in May the mayor of a village in the Gironde département in south west France requested that the Ministry of Culture issue heritage site protection to rural sounds including cockerels, church bells ringing, donkeys braying and cows mooing.
He told the French press 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.
"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 Local 2019/07/18 15:44

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[email protected] 2019/07/18 22:53
Expats tried to do the same thing in Boquete, Panama. Where the Flower Fair has been an institution and many other things in this region for years and the expats decided that they wanted to close it because it was too much noise. They tried to do an avant garde thing, was fought and they shut down. The locality won.
[email protected] 2019/07/18 18:07
If mayors can be threatened with legal action over a pesticide ban on farmland close to schools, surely that demonstrates the importance of the farmer and his land and animals over some ridiculously entitled spoiled-brat tourists or second-home owners.

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