'City dwellers are incapable of living in rural France': Why anger is growing in the French countryside

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 31 Jul, 2019 Updated Wed 31 Jul 2019 09:14 CEST
'City dwellers are incapable of living in rural France': Why anger is growing in the French countryside

Anger is growing in rural France over so-called "neorural" city dwellers complaining about the noises in the countryside whether it's roosters, frogs or crickets. One French MP wants the law to offer protection to the racket in rural France. But are urbanites really to blame?


Rural France is not full of peace and tranquility as you might have imagined.

In fact an increasingly bitter battle is brewing over the "sounds and smells" of the French countryside which is pitching farmers and those who have grown up in small villages against so-called "neo-rural", city dwellers who move to La France Profonde in search of peace only to find the noise of frogs, crickets and roosters keep them up at night.

They are being blamed for a number of rising complaints in recent months that have seen rows over noisy cockerels on the picturesque island of Oleron off France's western coast, disputes over croacking frogs in Dordogne and most recently a bitter tête-a-tête over crickets in the same département.

That's not to mention complaints being lodged by tourists about the sound of church bells, farm machinery and even noisy petanque players.

Then there's the second-home owners in the French Alps, including many foreign residents who lodged an official complaint about noisy cows.

READ ALSO: Rural France - Why it's like living in a foreign country`


One French mayor responded by putting up a sign at the entrance of the village sarcastically warning holidaymakers to "enter at your own peril" because of the sounds that await them including chickens, church bells, cows and tractors.


While the mayor was having fun a serious debate has been raging and it's reached the French parliament.

Right-wing Les Républicains MP Pierre Morel-A-L'Huissier is planning to lodge a proposed law in September to allow each French département to draw up a heritage list of sights and sounds that can be referred to when judges are making decisions about whether noisy frogs or roosters need to be silenced or allowed to express themselves.

The MP blamed "holidaymakers or neo-rurals, who can't cope with these kind of nuisances" for all the complaints.

"Many people come looking for peace and nature in the countryside. But many are incapable of living in a rural area. You can't come to the countryside and think you own it," he told Le Parisien newspaper.

READ ALSO: La France profonde - Is it a rural idyll or backwater hell?


The MP is not the only rural lawmaker in France fighting to protect the croaks and cock-a-doodle-doos of the countryside.

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.

Bruno Dionis du Séjour, mayor of the small village of Gajac which houses 400 people said the move was necessary because of "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."

Sociologist Jean Viard from the CNRS think tank said: "It's obvious that today the rural territory doesn't belong to country people anymore. Others who come have the impression that those living in the country don't understand anything.



"There needs to be a culture of co-habitation and negotiation. We are in the process of learning to live with each other in the countryside."

The sociologist said urbanites are often frustrated by how noisy the countryside can be.

"The main daily complaint of city dwellers is the noise and when they leave the city it's often in search of peace, but at the same time they can't tolerate the noise of the countryside.

"If they don't want the noise of the countryside then don't come here," he said

"There are dumb people everywhere."











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[email protected] 2019/08/01 08:46
We are fortunate to live just outside a hamlet in a very rural corner of Brittany. The countryside here is quiet at times but for most of the daylight hours it is not. <br /><br />I do wonder what would happen if someone moved here looking for peace and they certainly won't find it here. <br /><br />We have not only the heavy farm machinery on the go, we have cockerels, guinea fowl, geese, sheep, cattle, hunting dogs (two packs housed within earshot and they can get noisy), etc all adding to the soundscape during the day. Not to mention the wild birds and insect life.
[email protected] 2019/07/31 18:46
I live in a smallish agricultural village close to the wine-growing areas in Burgundy. All was well until there was a sudden spurt in house building a few years ago that attracted people from nearby towns and housing estates who purportedly wanted to improve their lifestyle and live 'in the countryside'.<br />One of these, a neighbour of mine, complains bitterly about the noise of frogs, crickets and woodpigeons that disturb his tranquility, but who uses every noisy gadget known to man for DIY and gardening, and buys his children even noisier 'toys' like motorised go-carts! <br />Two more inhabitants (who are on our local council, ye Gods) have officially asked for the church bells to be silenced because one of their wives complains about the bells when they start ringing at 7.00AM (the start of the French working day). They bought their house knowing that it is situated just 100 metres from the church!<br />I'm afraid that I have little or no patience for such selfishness and stupidity.<br />
[email protected] 2019/07/31 14:19
Ludicrous, I can't believe people really complain about the sounds of nature or the natural sounds of a working countryside and expect it to change just for them. Who the fuck do they think they are? There are nuisances of course, incessant dog barking, hunting (though I suppose that has to be part of the country life). They'll be wanting to ban the morning chorus next.

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