22nd November 2009

Visitors to rural France often comment that they don't know what people actually do behind all those shuttered up houses. As you drive through French villages, the inhabitants seem to have all left home, everywhere deathly quiet. Closed-up volets, empty streets, not a scrap of litter, the few shops dark, and restaurants always closed outside those crucial hours of 12 - 2 and 7 - 9. I often expect to see a sign outside saying 'gone to lunch'. So, where exactly is everybody? And, if they are at home, what are they actually doing?
There was a court case recently where a nosey-parker in Aix en Provence regularly climbed a tree in his garden to observe his neighbours during the volets-open season. He spent hours in the ash tree that overlooked his neighbours' property from where he took photos of what was happening. From his high perch, he was able to see not only what was going on in their garden, but could also see right into their kitchen, living room and even the couple's upstairs bedroom. After the police said that no criminal action was being committed (typical!), the exasperated couple brought a civil action against him in the French courts. But, even the judges proclaimed that the man didn't seem to be causing any nuisance! Eventually, an appeal to the supreme court of France, le Cour de Cassation, succeeded. The man has now been ordered to stay out of the tree.
But, that still doesn't answer the question: what exactly is it that French people do in rural France? I must contact that tree-climbing man in Aix en Provence and ask him.

2 comments:

Mgtcoll said...

I have often wondered,why the French keep their shutters closed all day. It must be very dreary, being shut up behind shutters all winter.

It is much more enjoyable, being in front of a lovely log fire, and being able to see the bleak countryside outside. Also, a winter walk in the woods is very invigorating. Perhaps you will find out the secrets of the closed shutters, and share them with us sometime.

Rosabell said...

This is a wonderful story , thx fo posting it :)) ... My husband's oppinion is that after Courte de Cassation ruled against him ,the guy with the tree should have gone to Hague, to prove he has the right of doing whatever he wants within his property (tree included) ...