Famous French countryside cockerel gathers support

Maurice, the most famous cockerel in France - who has become a symbol of the struggle between rural and urban living - will be supported by several other cockerels during his trial this Thursday (July 4).

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Maurice’s owner, Corinne Fesseau, a lifelong Saint-Pierre d’Oléron resident (Île d'Oléron, Charente-Maritime, Nouvelle-Aquitaine), has been fighting her neighbours - a city couple that owns a holiday home next door - for two years.

The holiday home owners - who come to the house just three times per year - have complained that the morning crowing of the cockerel is unbearable, and have demanded that Maurice leave the property after claiming that the noise was harming their health.

Ms Fesseau claims that she has already taken steps to quieten the cockerel, including putting him away between the hours of 21h30 and 8h30, and adding cardboard box insulation to dampen the sound. She has denied claims that the crowing begins at 4h.

The case is due in court in Rochefort this week.

Now, another local cockerel owner has said they will bring their birds along in support of Maurice and Ms Fesseau.

Aurélia Ange, an air hostess, lives in Montguyon in the south of Charente-Maritime. She has a smallholding of 80 birds, including around a dozen cockerels.

Writing on her Facebook page, Ms Ange has announced that she will be taking at least three birds - Attila, Jean-René and Casanova - with her when she travels to court in Rochefort to support Ms Fesseau.

She wrote: “We support Corinne Fesseau and the mayor Christophe Sueur to not let holidaymakers dictate a city way of life. Yes, in the countryside, there are cockerels, flies, and clothes hanging on lines outside.

“We believe that if these holidaymakers win, it is the beginning of the end! Our French countryside is authentic and alive. We must save it, not ‘shut it up’”.

Maurice goes global

The announcement comes as the famous cockerel received front page coverage in US newspaper the New York Times late last month, in an article entitled "The Rooster Must Be Defended’: France’s Culture Clash Reaches a Coop".

Journalist Adam Nossiter wrote: “[Maurice] has become a symbol of a perennial French conflict - between those for whom France’s countryside is merely a backdrop for pleasant vacations, and the people who actually inhabit it.”

The cockerel has also received coverage in French newspaper Le Monde, which featured Bruno Dionis du Séjour, a retired farmer and the mayor of Gajac (Gironde), who has also come out in support of Maurice and Ms Fesseau.

The article read: “He has offered his support in an open letter, and wishes to classify countryside noise as part of France’s ‘national heritage’.

“Because the story of Maurice the cockerel is one too many, and is stoking anger of local authorities and engaged residents, who are trying to save the authenticity of their communes."

A petition, started by Ms Fesseau, has gathered more than 117,280 signatures in support.

Writing on the page, Ms Fesseau explained that she has the support of the mayor, her neighbours, and animal welfare association SPA.

She said: “These people are only here for their holidays [but] the whole neighbourhood believes I am right. What can we ban? Birdsong? Seagull cries? Church bells ringing?”

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