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French mayor to investigate mystery noise that disturbs residents

The noise comes day and night and no one has yet been able to identify the origin or cause

A woman covers her ears in the street

The noise comes day and night and can last for up to half an hour, residents say Pic: Lisic / Shutterstock

A mayor in the north of France is investigating after a mysterious noise has been disturbing residents day and night since late October.

So far, no one in the town of Wizernes, near Saint-Omer (Pas-de-Calais) has been able to identify the source of the noise – a kind of whistling – although they have been able to record it on their phones.

It lasts from 40 seconds to half an hour.

One resident, Aurélie Lurette, said: “It’s very annoying and difficult to stand, because when the whistling stops, you still feel as though you can hear it.”

Another said: “It doesn’t come at a set time – it’s day and night.”

Journalists who visited the town described the noise as “similar to a ‘test pattern’ on TV” – a kind of high-pitched tone.

Residents have suggested that the closest 5G antenna could be the cause, but the mayor’s office, which is leading the inquiry, believes this is not the case.

The investigation is set to visit all the businesses in the area to check if their activity could be a possible cause. Two other communes in Pas-de-Calais have also reported similar noise issues in recent months.


Domestic and nuisance noise in France

In France, nuisance noise by domestic neighbours can be reported to the legal noise information centre ADIL (Agence départementale pour l'information sur le logement).

Co-director of ADIL in  Puy-de-Dôme, Natalie Mialon, explained to France 3: “We provide information on neighbourhood disturbances, nuisances, rights and obligations. We will remind the person of the law and their rights when necessary, whether they are the victim or the perpetrator of the nuisance. 

“We provide information in a neutral and impartial manner. We do not intervene or provide specific support. Then we can guide the person on their possibilities of action from a legal point of view and we show them how to act, either amicably, or by taking the case to court.”

The ADIL states that “no particular noise may, by its duration, repetition or intensity, be detrimental to the tranquillity of the neighbourhood or to human health in a public or private place”.

And yet, so-called “nuisance noise” in France does depend on the location. 

Several mayors in rural areas have taken out decrees that seek to protect common local noises that form part of the “national heritage”, such as church bells, crowing cockerels, and cowbells. 

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'Give French countryside sounds protected status' 
French countryside sounds and smells to be protected by law 
French village warns tourists to expect 'rural noises' 

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