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Hamlet’s ‘noisy’ cockerel can continue crowing, rules French court

Saturnin was at the centre of legal action after a neighbour claimed the bird disturbed their sleep

Saturnin’s cockerel cries have been legally allowed after a court threw out a case against him (image for illustration only) Pic: ZR10 / Shutterstock

A cockerel has been allowed to continue living with its family after a court rejected a neighbour’s request for the bird to be removed as it disturbed their sleep in a hamlet in southwest France.

Saturnin, a cockerel who belongs to a family living in Villalbe, near Carcassonne in the southwest (Occitanie), began living in the family’s courtyard in 2021.

However, a neighbour brought a court case saying its nighttime crowing was preventing them from sleeping. They claimed that the situation was causing ‘abnormal neighbour issues’ (‘trouble anormal du voisinage’, an official term) and demanded €5,000 in damages and for the bird to be stopped or removed.

But the court threw out the case.

The plaintiff provided a bailiff's report that they said supported the case but other neighbours of Saturnin’s family told a different story and said that they were not disturbed by the bird. 

For their part, the cockerel’s owners launched a petition pleading for ‘the safeguarding of rural heritage’ and gathered nearly 3,000 signatures in their favour.

After they won the case, their lawyer Franck Alberti told France 3: "Our fight, and that of people who defend the countryside, has been won.”

Latest in a series of cockerel noise cases

Saturnin is the latest of several cockerels to have prompted court cases and complaints in France, with some of the most high-profile birds including Maurice in the Île d'Oléron (which even hit headlines in the US) and Pitikok in the Hautes-Pyrénées.

Maurice and Pitikok were also allowed to continue crowing.

Read more: French mayor decree legally allows noisy cockerels 

Safeguarding countryside sounds has been a hot topic in France in recent years. In addition to noisy cockerels, tourists and residents have been known to complain about morning church bells, cowbells, cicadas, cow lowing, frog croaking and machinery sounds. 

Read more: Battle over frog noise in Dordogne not over

The trend even prompted the village of Muhlbach-sur-Munster in Haut-Rhin, Grand Est, to install a sign in its main village square in 2020, which read: “Beware, you are in the countryside.

“Here, we have two [church] bells that ring often, roosters that crow early in the morning and cow herds in the fields with bells around their necks…”

The sign continues: “We have farmers who are working to give you food, artisans who are working for you...if you cannot stand these countryside noises, from a village that wants to develop itself reasonably, that’s up to you.

“If you cannot stand that others might benefit from our environment, that’s up to you...but respect this area and the people who are used to it all.”

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French mayor decree legally allows noisy cockerels

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French countryside sounds and smells to be protected by law

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