One of my cats lost his radio collar this morning so went looking for it with the radio receiver. I traced it to a small open chemin around the corner in a different road. Don’t know the neighbours around there. It’s like a different neighbourhood.
Not knowing where the chemin led to, or who it belonged to, I knocked on the door of the house right next to it – no reply.
So, I walked up to the curve in the chemin and saw a man with a wheelbarrow in the distance so I walked up a little further and called to him. I assumed he was the owner, and so he was. He looked to about 40ish.
But I received immediate belligerence from a very angry man who towered over me. He grabbed me physically/forcefully while I was trying to explain why I was there, but he wasn’t interested in anything I had to say.
“Piss off from my property, you didn’t ask for permission, and I’ll throw you off if necessary.”
I have since simmered down and now know where he lives. I saw him come out of his house, which is surprisingly just a couple of doors from where I live – pass by it nearly every day – but when I called over to him, he turned his back and went indoors.
I considered writing him an apologetic explanatory letter but feel in my bones he’d just throw it away. Considered the mayor and the gendarmerie, but that might make things worse – he knows the colour of my cat, and he probably has a shotgun.
This was a very angry man who already had a bee in his bonnet about something, needing any excuse to lash out.
As much as I’m fuming, I think maybe well left alone? Fortunately, I have a spare radio collar for my cat.
I felt angry as well as shaken up. Such unnecessary behavior. He grabbed me, he put his hands on me and started to push/pull me away towards the exit, until I told him I was in my 80s. I asked him why so angry - he wasn’t interested in any discussion.
I’m reluctant about the gendarmery for the sake of my cat. The mayor is approachable and I do know some neighbours who work in the mairie, so might go down that route.
From personal experience last year here with new neighbour who harassed me by registered letters all because I refused to contribute towards his cheap and nasty dividing fence. We discovered and he had sent to us by accident, that he had all the personal details of myself and my children which he had got from a third source and who he was angry with. My son and I went to the gendarmerie and informed them of these personal data details in his hands, he was known to them and they asked if we wished to make an official complaint but as I have to live by him, we decided not to. However all was put on an official record and filed in case he started anything else and the officer was very helpful and even gave me his personal phone number if I was scared at any time. Since then, things have changed and we are on very good terms now and speak all the time when outside. Some people get very angry or frustrated but its worth making the authorities aware if you are truly worried at any future confrontations and they know then that you had already reported him. Good luck and I would avoid him for a while now and perhaps do some local snooping about him on the quiet. As for photos, you cannot do that here unless it happens on your property and he is an intruder and caught on a surveillance device, ordinary photos are a no-no.
I would start by having a quiet off-the-record word with the neighbours you know in the town hall, just get some info on him as he may be a local nutcase and could seek revenge starting with your cat if he feels threatened in any way. And judging by his reaction, he seems to feel easily threatened. Also bear in mind that in rural areas, everyone knows everyone so I suggest going for a “I’m scared” approach and not a “this guy needs arresting” approach - you may be talking to people who know him well, are part of his family etc etc
I’m on good terms with a neighbour who has a position in the mairie, and who lives between me and this errant neighbour. We always wave whenever I pass by his house, so will stop and ask next time I see him.
If he is known for behaviour of a kind that would be of concern to the gendarmerie then I shall go make a report.
You have to bare in mind that some rural areas in France are stuck in the 80’s or 70.s or even the 60´s or whatever with the same attitudes that belong to that time… The bloke could be harmless and he is what he is.
A policewoman appeared in front of my house one day - her lovely horse was browsing on my chemin’s grassy verge. She was unmounted and said she was looking for somewhere for her horse to browse, like in the large garden behind my workshop. I remember now that she lived in the house where this errant neighbour lives, and I recall her husband being a policeman.
I also recall the house being full of children and toys in the front garden, but no longer.
Of course, the house might have been sold on and this unwanted neighbour has moved in, but my imagination has been stirred!
We have a serial sex offender here who assaulted 2 of my friends. The gendarmes did nothing, as they are all mates. One of my friends had a nervous breakdown as a result.
Around 5 years ago, a local girl was raped in her home, managed to escape and called the police. Due to the seriousness, it was the police and not the gendarmes who investigated (forensics were at the house etc). During the court case, it came out that this guy (who I knew and saw every day at the local bistro) had been attacking women for years. Why was nothing done? Because people liked his family. The guy is now out of prison, but banned from entering Tarn. Well, guess who I bumped into the other day at our local U Express? In Tarn, no less… I had a right go at him.
And not forgetting the guy who in a jealous fit lured his ex into the forest, where he murdered her. He’s also out of prison and swanning around. One of his brothers is… a local gendarme.
So I’m afraid my experiences over the past 20-odd years is that rural France can be a law unto itself. And violence against women is not taken seriously. Or at least not where I live.
It happens everywhere… The rapist once tweaked my boob when leaving a bar, so I threw my wine over him with one hand and slapped him with the other. And he got a right roasting when I saw him in the supermarket and scuttled off. I’m going to pop in and speak to his mum when I’m next in their area.
There is of course a level where yes one should accept rural ways - noise, smells, slow tractors, family feuds and nepotism. However sexual harassment, violence, racism and paedophilia has no place in any 21st century country east or west, urban or rural. And if people are brave enough to call scum out on this type of behaviour then well done to them!
“Accepting what it is” is a fast track back to mediaeval times and burning witches.
TBH rural France doesn’t sound very different from other rural parts of the world as described in this thread. People are people with similar needs, hopes and desires where ever you go, even if those are shaped through traditions and norms.