A law to protect the sounds and smells of the countryside

Maurice will be able to sing all year round!


It's "Our Campaign Anthem". (1) who won! A bill has just been adopted by the National Assembly to protect the "sounds and smells" of the campaign from complaints of "abnormal neighbourhood disturbance". Thus, the sensory heritage of our French countryside will be protected. Welcome calves, cows, pigs and ... your chatter of all kinds! This is Mauritius who's gonna be happy...

A rooster crowing, does that surprise you? The smell of dung in a field of cows, is that really surprising?! The song of cicadas in Provence, the sound of bells in our villages, the smell of cut wheat and straw, the croaking of frogs in ponds, ... In short, everything that makes the authenticity of life in the countryside will be listed and protected. Good news, you might say!

" The campaign is earned "The National Assembly has decided to preserve its sounds and smells by unanimously voting a bill that introduces the notion of sensory heritage of the French countryside into French law. It is the deputy of Lozère, Pierre Morel-A-L'Huissier, who brought this text to a first reading, supported on all benches, by saluting a "real work of co-construction of this text, between the Council of State, ministries and deputies".

The bill amends the environmental code and integrates into the "common heritage of the Nation" the "sounds and smells" that characterize "the spaces, resources and natural terrestrial and marine environments". In addition, the regional cultural heritage inventory services will draw up a specific inventory in order, in particular, to "study" and "qualify" the "cultural identity of the territories", i.e. to take into account in the general inventory of agricultural activities, practices and know-how in rural territories.

But that's not all. A new notion is also introduced in the Civil Code: that of abnormal neighbourhood disturbance: "noise and odours" can no longer be the cause of complaints for "abnormal neighbourhood disturbances". The aim is to anticipate complaints about animal smells and noises or rural noises, such as the sound of bell towers, for example, or the humming of tractors. As explained by MNA Pierre Morel-À-l'Huissier, "The objective is to anticipate complaints about animal odours and noises or rural sounds, such as the sound of bell towers for example, or the humming of tractors. There will be [with this inventory] anteriority of a sensory heritage recognition."

This bill did not come out of nowhere. We remember the emblematic case of the rooster Mauritius on the Ile d'Oléron for which its owner had been summoned to court for "noise nuisance" by neighbours while on holiday in their house. If Mauritius won his case, others in different regions of our beautiful France were ordered to pay fines and damages to the plaintiffs, and to move or barricade cattle and gallinacs.

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Nature isn't what it used to be!

Within a few months this rooster has become the symbol of the threatened rurality, both by the arrival of newcomers who assimilate the countryside to silence and by the sprawling invasion of the suburbs.
As the anthropologist and professor at the Collège de France, Philippe Descola, explains (2), "Nature isn't what it used to be! For several centuries, it has been seen as [...] those refuge spaces that have escaped anthropization and that city dwellers like to frequent.

For the geographer Jean-Louis Yengué of the Ruralities Laboratory at the University of Poitiers, "... the geography of the region is a very important issue. Peace and quiet is not the hallmark of the countryside", and this type of quarrels arise above all from the misconception that newcomers to the rural world have of the songs and cries of farm or wild animals, the noise of the engines of farmers' working tools, or of the maintenance of woods and forests, ...
This is the meaning of the words of Pascal Lavergne, Member of Parliament for Gironde: " Odours are different, but they are part of a place where these odours are inherent and part of normal activities. ".

It is not animals with their smells or noises that threaten our countryside, but much more devastating and dangerous predators used by the hand of man, such as pesticides. (3) or concrete.

"I use animals to instruct men," said Jean de La Fontaine. Indeed, the great fabulist saw fit to enlighten the human comedy by this parallel with the animal world. It's a pity that men still haven't understood anything ...





(1) Song of the group Tryo
(2) "Les Natures en question", edited by Philippe Descola - Collège de France, Edition Odile Jacob, 2018.
(3) In this connection, a decision was taken by the Ministers of Justice and of Ecological Transition to set up specialised environmental courts. This measure is part of the bill that will be discussed in the Senate from 26 February next. Concretely, this proposal aims to establishment of environmental courts in each of the 36 courts of appeal present in France. Their mission will be to judge criminal cases of serious or endangered environmental offences. This reform is based on a report entitled "Justice for the environment", commissioned from the General Council for the Environment and Sustainable Development and the General Inspectorate of Justice.

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To go further :

  • Exhibition "A Breath of Virtual Nostalgia or how smells lead us into the world of art ? » from 11 to 22 March, Tuesday to Sunday from 13h to 20h. The vernissage will take place on Wednesday, March 11 from 6 to 8 pm, at 59 rue de Rivoli Rivoli, 75001 Paris. Smell is the sense of smell long ignored by human beings. Rarely staged, it is today at the centre of the creation of the world's artists. During the exhibition, smell will guide visitors on a journey where culture, sensations and olfactory memory cohabit. The reproduction of the past will then be revealed in front of the nose.
    This exhibition brings together seven artists from Asia and Europe, from all disciplines: ALAgrApHY (aromatic paintings/images), Sandy Bee (installation), Isabelle Bonté-Hessed2 (series of scented petri dishes), Chia-Shan Chang (interactive installation), PoChih Chang (scented plants and projection), Allen Hong and YenRu Huang (interactive installation). All the works are presented for the first time in Europe.
    The exhibition offers an interactive, multi-sensory and unique experience. Each work tells a story, a moment, through different smells and distinct forms. We discover the visual, sound, tactile and olfactory worlds through these journeys between past, present and future.

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