Cocorico!

‘Cocorico’ is French for cock-a-doodle-doo and a symbol of national pride. I’ve posted before about the Coq Gaulois and why it’s our national mascot. Now, recent events have inspired me to provide an update on the Gallic rooster. Or at least one noisy bird called Maurice.

You may have heard of the feisty fellow. Maurice made headlines around the world this summer as he became the object of a dispute between neighbours on an island off the west coast of France, Île d’Oléron. Joined to the mainland by a bridge on the Atlantic, it’s an idyllic holiday spot.

The rooster “Maurice” stands at Saint-Pierre-d’Oleron in La Rochelle, western France, on June 5, 2019. / AFP / XAVIER LEOTY

Maurice was crowing too early in the day and with too much gusto as far as his city-slicker neighbours were concerned. Roosters can make a hell of a racket. And they don’t just crow when the sun comes up. They can be like watch dogs, setting off their vocal alarm at odd hours of the day or night. This upset the holiday people who had bought a second home in the country to enjoy some peace and quiet.

The problem is that the countryside is not by nature a quiet place. There are ducks and chickens and cows and church bells. The farmers are out from dawn to dusk and their machines also make noise. The court case between Maurice and the city people represented the great divide between urban and rural France. The city mice vs. the country mice.

Translation: ‘Up yours, assholes!’

When justice was decided and Maurice won the right to crow his little heart out, it was like a victory for all of the French cocks. And I’m not just talking about our feathered friends. ‘Cocorico’ is not only the onomatopeia for the rooster’s crow, it’s a word that describes the sound of French pride. One that finds its roots deep in the dusty soil of la campagne.

It sparked a whole series of memes like the one below, warning outsiders to beware of the country village with its noisy church bells and farm animals. Love it or leave it!

I had to look up the meanings of a couple of words from in a French online dictionary to fully appreciate the above meme, which led me to a list of slang words for the Savoie region. A ‘monchu’ is a city slicker or a novice to a sport like skiing. It derives from ‘Monsieur’ and is associated with that most detested of Frenchmen in provincial France, ie the Parisian. ‘Arvi’pa’ means: get out, go away, get lost, ciao!

Here is the story of Maurice from an American point of view:

I’m of two minds about this. Personally, I would not be able to live in harmony next to noisy church bells or an overly enthusiastic rooster. But I understand that they have been doing their thing for centuries, so it’s up to me to adapt.

What do you think about Maurice’s victory? Should tradition stand or French villages adapt to changing times?

8 thoughts on “Cocorico!

  1. I love the fact that in our village I can hear the church bells – and if I’m lying awake at night I can count the strikes to figure out what time it is! I also love the ducks on our river and the roosters around the village – I don’t love the lorries that make a hell of a racket as they seem to race through the village! That victory is great, common sense has prevailed! In a case like this, it should be buyer beware, if you’re moving to someplace you should find out what it’s like before, and if you have a feeling that you’re not going to like the country noises then don’t move there – simple? I’ve heard of too many cases in the UK where the churchbells are no longer allowed to ring and people have had to abandon keeping chickens. Like you write, nature is not silent…. 🙂

  2. Our church bells ring only from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. No middle-of-the-night tolling. And I love hearing the roosters. Much louder than the roosters, though, are the owls and quite a few other birds that I am not familiar with. OTOH I don’t appreciate the incessant barking of dogs. They can go on, without taking a breath, for hours. Are the owners deaf? I’m not much for other people’s loud music, either. The earbud trend is a blessing.

  3. People who object to the sounds and smells of agriculture should not buy a house in a subdivision next to a farm. Or complain about getting behind a tractor on the road. Where do they think food COMES from? And a house or apartment in the center of a village, city or town WILL be close to a church and the bells WILL ring. Go back to your glassed-in high-rise apartment in the city.

  4. I’ve come to the conclusion that there will be those who will complain, regardless of the circumstance. Surely they didn’t buy property in the countryside before they actually spent time in the countryside to determine whether it suit their purposes?

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