Last week, a French court decided that a rooster named Maurice is allowed to crow when he wants. The case may seem silly, but it points out a growing conflict between groups of people in France.
Ile d’Oleron is an island off the Atlantic coast of France. Corinne Fesseau has lived on the island for 35 years in a simple small town called Saint-Pierre-d’Oleron.
Only around 7,000 people live in Saint-Pierre-d’Oleron. But in the summer, the island is so popular with tourists that there can be as many as 35,000 people.
Ms. Fesseau has a 4-year-old rooster named Maurice. Like most roosters, he’s fond of crowing as loudly as he can in the mornings. And sometimes at other times of day, too.
A retired couple who bought a vacation home on Ile d’Oleron became upset by Maurice’s crowing. They claimed he often woke them up as early as 4 in the morning. So they took Ms. Fesseau to court to try to silence Maurice.
Ms. Fesseau says she tried to keep Maurice quiet, but couldn’t. For example, she covered his coop with black sheets, so that he wouldn’t know it was morning. It didn’t work. He crowed anyway.
Maurice’s case, which has lasted two years, has attracted a lot of attention in France. It seemed to point out a tension between city people who want to control their environment, and country people who are comfortable in a more natural setting.
Maurice had lots of supporters. Over 140,000 people signed a special request saying that Maurice should be left alone. People from around the world sent Ms. Fesseau letters in support of Maurice. Last July, a group of people came to Maurice’s trial with their own roosters and hens to show their support.
In the end, a court in nearby Rochefort agreed with Maurice and Ms. Fesseau. The judge said that Maurice was “just being himself.” Ms. Fesseau was awarded $1,100. Outside the court afterward, Ms. Fesseau is reported to have said, “Cocorico!” (That’s French for “cock-a-doodle-doo”.)
The case is just one of many examples of people from cities trying to change ordinary country life. For example, some have asked for church bells not to be rung and for cows not to wear bells. In one case, the Telegraph reports, a couple in the French countryside was ordered to get rid of a pond because the sound of croaking frogs annoyed the neighbors.
These clashes between people in the country and outsiders from cities are similar in some ways to the Yellow Vest protests that have rocked France for the last year. In these protests, people wearing yellow vests have gathered on the streets, often violently, because they feel like the people in charge of the government are out of touch with the lives and problems of ordinary people.
One small town mayor has come up with his own solution. He’s asked the French government to protect animal sounds by law.
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