Maurice the rooster can keep crowing, French court rules
Judge orders couple that complained about noise to pay damages to neighbour
Corinne Fesseau poses with her rooster Maurice in her garden at Saint-Pierre-d’Oleron in La Rochelle, western France. File photograph: Xavier Leoty/AFP/Getty Images
Maurice the rooster can keep crowing, a French court has ruled, as it rejected a complaint from neighbours who sued over noise nuisance.
Maurice’s case and several other lawsuits against the sounds of church bells, cow bells, cicadas and the pungent smells from farms have prompted a national debate over how to protect rural culture from the encroachment of expectations that are more associated with urban areas.
Maurice’s owner Corinne Fesseau will be able to keep the rooster on the small island of Oleron, off France’s Atlantic coast, the court decided.
Her lawyer Julien Papineau said Ms Fesseau “is happy. She cried when I told her the court’s decision”.
Maurice’s dawn crowing is exasperating Ms Fesseau’s neighbours, a retired couple who moved to the island two years ago.
They asked the court to make the animal move farther away, or shut up.
Instead, the judge in the southwest city of Rochefort ordered them to pay €1,000 in damages to Ms Fesseau for reputational harm, plus court costs.
Their case also backfired in the court of public opinion, at least locally.
More than 120,000 people signed a petition urging authorities to leave Maurice alone.
Authorities also ruled against residents of a village in the French Alps who complained in 2017 about annoying cow bells, and an effort last year to push out cicadas from a southern town to protect tourists from their summer song also failed.
Since Maurice’s tale came to light, some French politicians have suggested a law protecting the sounds and smells of the countryside as part of France’s rural heritage. – AP