Sounds and smells in the French countryside are now protected by law

From the crowing of roosters to the distinctive barnyard whiff, France’s countryside sounds and smells are now officially protected by law.

The European country has recently passed a bill that protects the “sensory heritage” of its rural areas. The move came following an increasing number of social conflicts between long-term residents of rural communities and newcomers looking for peace and quiet in the countryside.

Among the most emblematic cases involved a rooster called Maurice, who was put on trial in 2019 after neighbors complained about his early morning crowing. The court, however, ruled in the favor of Maurice, rejecting the neighbors’ complaints of noise pollution and ordered them to pay around $1,200 in damages.

The case came to symbolize growing divisions between rural and urban France as the neighbors were city-dwellers who only visited their holiday home in the village a few times a year.

As part of the new law, regional authorities will be tasked with defining “rural heritage, including its sensory identity,” said Joël Giraud, the Minister for Rural Affairs. “It’s a real victory for rural communities,” he added. “Do your part, let’s preserve the countryside.”

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