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France may legislate to protect rural noises, as tourists complain about noisy cocks

Noisy roosters, church bells, cicadas and farmers are provoking tourist complaints in rural France, and now a French MP has drafted a law to defend those sounds as an essential part of France's heritage.

What marks a territory's identity? 

Its landscape, flora and fauna, sure. But to some, it's more than what the eyes can see. It's also what your nose can smell and what your ears can hear too.

Not convinced? Imagine walking through a lavender field in Provence at the bottom of the Alps, a landscape that has inspired so many painters. But what makes this place so special is not just its Instagram-ability. It's the scenery coupled with the smell of lavender and the singing of cicadas.

But, the sounds and scents of rural France appear to be under attack, as some tourists say they're deprived of well-earned holiday rest as a result. Church bells, crowing roosters and chirping cicadas are just some of the culprits, apparently spoiling the peace.

The French countryside, whether in Provence, Auvergne or Lozere, attracts thousands of tourists each year, but more and more of them seem to prefer the countryside with the sound off.

Some even go as far as suing roosters, like Maurice, whose story was told by the New York Times, while others prefer to laugh about a clash between urban and rural France. 

That's the case of Regis Bourelly, the mayor of a small village in southern France, whose posted a sign warning visitors they will be exposed to "regular church bell ringings, roosters singing very early and farmers working hard to feed you", which then went viral.

But for French MP Pierre Morel-A-L'Huissier, this is no laughing matter and the soul of the French countryside is at stake.

Elected in the very rural district of Lozere, he drafted a law which aims to protect countryside noises and smells, by recognising them as France’s "rural heritage".

As he explained in a France 3 report, he believes that along with built heritage, there is also a "sensorial" heritage. 

"If we let complaints be filed based on denying the reality of a territory, we are going to damage all of the French countryside,” said the French lawmaker.

“We already have protection for buildings that are heritage-listed. I believe we should protect noises and smells that are typical to the French countryside, by making them part of our rural heritage."

His proposed bill will be debated at France's National Assembly in October.

France 3's report on the proposed law (in French):

 

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