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.