Country sounds

Goats do roam in Carcassonne

We recently had to replace our house exhaust fan and I was astonished at the sound level rating for this new device on its normal setting: 15 decibels. For comparison purposes, a pin dropping rates 10 decibels while a whisper is 30; so it’s pretty quiet. A second surprise was that although there’s an exhaust outlet in both bathrooms and in the kitchen, there’s only one motor mounted in the attic and connected to each room by duct work. In every house in the US in which we lived each room had its own independent fan/motor, all of which we replaced anytime that we moved because they were always so loud. By chance, the same morning we were preparing to do the work in our attic, I saw in the newspaper that noise levels were being addressed elsewhere in the country, but with a twist. 

North of Bordeaux, the mayor of the village of Muron, population 1300, was concerned about a situation he had seen in two other communities. Judges were being asked to outlaw roosters in those towns because their crowing was considered a nuisance, especially by tourists staying in area guesthouses. Given that the rooster is a national emblem of France, Mayor Hervé de Changy was concerned enough to have had signs posted at the entrances to his village saying (my translation):

Watch Out: You are entering a French village at your own risk

    • We have church bells that ring
    • Roosters that crow
    • Herds of cows, sheep, and goats that live nearby (and some of them might have bells around their necks)
    • Farmers who work to feed you

If you can’t stand this, you are in the wrong place. Otherwise, we have great local products and talented artisans who are happy to help you discover their know how and what they produce.

This giant rooster at the Museum of Iron in Nancy is very quiet

Nationwide, there are noise restrictions by which everyone is supposed to abide: no excessive outdoor noise before 8 AM or after 8 PM plus “quiet time” for lunch between noon and 2 PM. On Sundays, 10 AM to noon only, if you must. We live near a fire/rescue station, so we hear a lot of sirens but those emergency vehicles only use their klaxons as needed to clear the way rather than leaving them on throughout their entire journey. Even automobile drivers are only supposed to use their horns in extreme situations.

Out of curiosity, I did look to see how loud a rooster crows; it ranges from 90 decibels (the same as a dog barking) up to 130 decibels which is equal to the sound of a jet engine. We don’t have any roosters in our neighborhood but we do have the occasional “pop” of a champagne cork. That registers at around 80 decibels and according to one sound tolerance chart I saw, we are allowed an unlimited number of hours per day to sounds at less than 85 decibels. Isn’t that interesting?

2 thoughts on “Country sounds

  1. Hi Bob, I was researching the same issue this past summer. We live in an old building in Western France that was turned into 4 housing units in the 1920s. Two years ago, we installed a self contained AC unit in the bedroom (no exterior part). It’s exhaust fan on the street registers at about 48dB. We only use the AC when temps are above 30C at night. However our neighbor on the floor below us complained of the noise because when it’s 30C at night, they have their windows open (they don’t have AC) and can hear it, even though it’s not loud, it can disturb their sleep. Thankfully we reached an agreement to minimize our late night use (heavy pre-cooling before midnight). But this will be an upcoming problem in villages as people start turning to AC as the summers continue to get hotter.

    On the cool side, I learned there are multiple Apple apps (free) that can turn your iPhone 6 or later into sound meter.

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