France Passes Law to Preserve Scents and Sounds of Countryside

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. droppings / ˈdrɒp ɪŋz / (n) – the solid waste produced by animals

    Some farmers use animal droppings to make their plants healthier.

  2. nuisance / ˈnu səns / (n) – a person, thing, or situation that causes trouble

    My coworker often plays loud music, and it’s becoming a nuisance.

  3. clash / klæʃ / (n) – a conflict in views or interests

    There was a clash of opinions at the last committee meeting.

  4. shrill / ʃrɪl / (adj) – having a very loud, high-pitched sound

    We were frightened by the shrill scream in the distance.

  5. lasting / ˈlæs tɪŋ / (adj) – existing or continuing for a long time

    Luckily, there was no lasting damage from the storm. The town was able to fix everything quickly.


Read the text below.

The French government has passed a law to preserve the scents and sounds of the countryside.

French senators passed a “sensory heritage” law designed to protect the typical sounds and scents of rural areas. The law means that cow droppings, the crowing of roosters, the noise of farm tractors, and other sensory experiences unique to the countryside are part of France’s cultural heritage and cannot be challenged in court. Minister of Rural Affairs Joël Giraud [zhee-ROH] added that being in the countryside meant accepting these nuisances.

The law was proposed to settle the social conflicts that arise between residents of rural areas and new arrivals from cities. Over the years, France has seen numerous clashes between long-term countryside residents and people from the cities who move to or visit these areas. One famous example was the case of Oleron Island resident Corinne Fesseau [FE-saw] and Maurice, her pet rooster.

Fesseau’s neighbors, who only visited the island a couple of times a year, complained about the rooster’s shrill noises and took Fesseau to court. At the trial, Fesseau stated the rooster’s crowing is part of the countryside and that the countryside must be protected. The court agreed and ruled in favor of Fesseau and Maurice.

Maurice died in 2019, but his case left a lasting impact that drove French officials to protect and preserve the countryside and its sensory heritage.

When the bill was passed, Giraud mentioned Maurice in a Twitter post and said the new law was a victory for the rooster, who was a symbol of rural life. Other lawmakers also celebrated the passing of the bill and said that it would be a useful tool for local authorities.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree with the French government’s decision to protect the sensory heritage of the countryside? Why or why not?
• If your country passed a similar law, what sensory heritage do you think would be necessary to protect? Discuss.

Discussion B

• If a similar law were passed for urban areas, what aspects of city life should be protected (e.g. traffic noise)? Discuss.
• Would you prefer to live in a city or in the countryside? Explain.