Noisy neighbours: France’s most outlandish and notorious disputes

We look at five of the country’s most unusual complaints in recent years

Neighbourly disputes come in all shapes and sizes, and here are some of France’s most famous
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1. Cowbells in the Alps

In 2017, a dozen villagers – including some Britons – complained about cowbells attached to animals in the village of Le Biot.

The Alpine village, close to the Swiss border, threw out the complaints of the villagers, many of whom were second-home owners, in 2017.

They said the cowbells were part of the area’s cultural traditions and could not be so easily dismissed.

2. Noisy cicadas

Anyone who has spent time in the south of France during the summer will be more than familiar with the evening hum of cicadas.

For some visitors to the village of Le Beausset (Var) in 2018, the noise was too much to bear.

The mayor of the village said he had received several complaints over the noise from tourists staying nearby, who requested authorities help to stop the noise.

They even suggested spraying trees in the village with insecticide to kill the creatures.

In a defiant response, the mayor unveiled a steel statue of a cicada in 2020.

3. Maurice the cockerel

Second-home owners on the isle of Oléron, (Charente-Maritime) filed a complaint over the crowing of a cockerel on the island popular for holiday getaways.

They complained the noise woke them up too early on their vacation to the island in a case that gained national – and international – attention.

Judges ruled the cockerel could continue to crow, however, siding with the locals against the second-home owners.

Surprisingly, it is not the only case of cockerel complaints – a number of similar situations have arisen over the years, most likely due to the cockerel’s early wake-up call.

Urbanists' continual complaints over the noise of cockerels were partly the motivation behind the introduction of the new law.

A more recent cockerel case (once again relating to noisy crowing) saw a petition to safeguard the birds’ crows as part of the ‘rural heritage’ of the French countryside rack up thousands of signatures.

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

4. Croaking frogs

From crowing to croaking – in 2021 a complaint was filed in the village of Grignols (Gironde) over noisy frogs in a resident’s back garden.

Going against the grain of the other cases on our list, the local judge ordered that a pond in the resident’s garden must be drained, to encourage the frogs to move to greener pastures.

This came despite some of the frogs living in the 300m² pond being classed as protected species, with animal associations present at the draining to ensure the animals were adequately protected.

5. ‘Permanently’ croaking frogs

In another amphibious debacle, last month saw the escalating conflict between a number of residents of the village of Frontenex, Savoie, with their 92-year-old neighbour, over the ribbiting of frogs in her garden.

They complained that the frogs were croaking “permanently”, and had previously asked the elderly neighbour to remove them.

The neighbour was said to be hard of hearing and not fully aware of the level of noise from the frogs.

She said, however, that the frogs had been keeping her occupied since the death of her husband, and despite initially agreeing to remove them, later changed her mind after her family intervened, leading to a standstill.

Read more: Loud frogs spark neighbour row: how to handle noise problems in France

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