Noise from neighbour's saw mill and a mayor who will not communicate with us!

Hello Lorraine,

I am in America working on a transition to move to France. I can't help with practical solutions, but I empathize with your situation because I know what you are going through. I have lived with a similar situation for 2/12 years. My village in upstate New York is the only one of several villages in the area that has no ordinances. Federal EPA guidelines mean little. I often feel trapped because noisy neighbors make it difficult to sell my house. There are vulnerable times when the drain of psychic energy seems unbearable, particularly since I work from my home. I dislike the feelings of anger that arise.

In the bigger picture, I noticed the other day that a neighbor up the road who has been particularly sensitive to my situation now has the same situation as his neighbors have set up a business with several trucks coming and going.

My rural area is in the throes of the fracking issue. Painfully, it has come down to neighbor against neighbor. Some, particularly those with more acreage, want money from their land. A neighbor, who, without words, once helped me with snow removal, now ignores me because he knows instinctively that I am against fracking.

I was told by the landowner next door to go back where I came from because I have not lived here 50 years and my family has not lived here for over 100 years. I was told I know nothing about "rednecks.” Of course, the landowner does not know me. She simply cannot accept the idea of change. Change happened and, at least in my case, I brought life into the community. It is now equally my house and my community because I made it so.

What I see is a clash of cultures and different values related to rural existence. The gap widens as people struggle to survive harsher economic times. This is happening everywhere - in France, America, and elsewhere.

I could move anywhere and find the same situation. Rural life is what it is these days unless one has the money to build barricades. Alternatively, I continue to believe that somewhere buried in the problem there is community dialogue and networking potential to help individual differences – a shared reason why we are all living in the same location. I found that building a unique network of support and in general face-to-face contacts with local officials and neighbors, aside from letter writing, has been a good start in this situation. At the least I feel more empowered and I have raised some awareness.

On another note, in reading some of the posts I am struggling to understand the difference between being "French" and being "English.” I wonder what being an American will mean in a new context or will I find commonalities in cultural terms?

Leisure for me is creating something or preparing something. The plight of the small farmer and the future of sustainable agriculture are an important to me. Commodification over production often worries me.

As an aside, I found reviewing information for arguable benchmarks such as the following helpful with information gathering on noise abatement:

Check you home insurance as well to see if you get any legal cover with them.

Keep your chin up and don't let the buggers grind you down. Stand tall, keep it above board and I am sure you will get some sort of resolve.

This sounds like a good idea,Susan, can you send us more details please?


Thanks Clare, kind of you to do that! I shall contact them. we have had two days of quiet here and I'm hoping that our 'discussion last Friday has had an impact - but but realistically he will be back on the job soon!

Hi Lorraine. I had a quick look at your profile and I think you are in the Vendee. The prefectures address is: 29 Rue Delille, 85000 Roche sur Yon (La) i cut and pasted this from the site. Hope this helps.

Try and use a main prefecture and not a sous prefecture. The main prefecture has all the experts and those in the sous prefecture usually just deal with local paperwork. If you do a Google search for the prefecture in your region it will show on there. I just type prefecture for Tarn and Garonne and it comes up with ours as being Montauban. If you are having trouble with this tell me what region you are in and I will find it for you. Good luck.

As far as we know , no planning permission has been granted and the work started five years after buying our house. We certainly have had no official notification. Can you clarify where I would find our prefecture? Thanks.

Hi Lorraine. The Procureur is higher than the prefecture they are involved with public prosecution & tribunals and you have not got that far yet. Best get as much info a possible as I have already suggested and tackle the Mayor again with everything copied to the prefecture. I would also mention to the prefecture that the Mayor has ignored previous letters to put a little pressure on him.

Yes, Clare - and also WHEN it was applied for/granted. There could be an issue here if the notaire didn't do the necessary searches.

From experience there do seem to be two sets of rules - we live within 500m of a 'listed building' - technically I have to apply for permission every time I want to repaint my shutters and will only get it if they are the 'approved colour'. The French just go ahead and paint them any colour they like. Complain? Too much trouble for the maire to make waves with the French!

Having problems putting up photos! Thanks for the excellent responses...we are having a good look through at the moment. Can someone explain the difference between the prefecture and the procureur...which one should we contact?

Lorraine _ I wonder if its worth you getting some insurance to cover you for notiares fees to get this sorted? I do a good package up to 40,000 euros through Credit Agricole for 5 euros a month. I think you could take it out now - wait for your grace period and then you can start by speaking to their legal dept which is all included in the package. I took out this insurance after witnessing a few problems through friends - just to give me some ammo if needed.

Also wondering if it is worth contacting the British Embassy in Bordeaux to see what help they can offer you.

Good luck and I am just so sorry to hear about this unfortunate episode in your lives.

Hi Emily, you have such a good perception of the French! Have you been here long enough to make up your own impressions or did you, (like I did to make some sense of what befell me here) read the book by Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow "Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong"?

For anyone that has not read he book, the cover reads: "Explains in non-romantic, lucid terms, better than anything else I have read, why the French are as the are .... Should be handed out at Calais and Charles de Gaulle airport." (Daily Telegraph)

Already while reading the first pages of the book I saw why the Telegraph used the words "lucid terms". It becomes (somewhat) lucid "what makes the French so French," but I still kept on shaking my head at something or other every two pages. Yes, I now understand (somewhat) better, but still can't see the logic in so many of their bizarre ways.

A must read for anyone contemplating to move to "romantic France."

Lorraine, I wish you good luck, with all my heart !

Emily you are right. This is exactly why she should involve the prefecture they have the power to agree or enforce. But don't forget that even though the French can be stubborn it does not give them rights to open up a noisy business without planning permission. I think the key is has this been granted, by who and on what basis. This is the starting point.

I disagree Alexander. I had a noise problem not as severe as Lorraine's and the prefecture stamped on it straight away after the Mayor was ignoring it. She does not know if the village authorities are against her yet they haven't responded to her letters. Depends how useless your prefecture is doesn't it? But that is also why I suggested earlier that before she writes again she is armed with all the info first instead of just complaining. I also had a problem with the hunt and they stamped on that instantly and I had a visit from the head hunter to apologise on the instructions of the prefecture. Its not just about stubborn French people, it is about knowing your rights and how to use that information. Before I make any complaint I study my rights first. It helps.

Hi Alex this is a great idea but it would be at Lorraine's expense. If the prefecture gets involved they will look at this for them and test the decibels etc...

Lorraine also read the above links this may help.


that sounds horrendous!

Keep a diary of what happen and when.

Call the gendarme for noise pollution and send letter R/AR ( always!) to sous prefect/prefet/proc of republic after, tbh, I wouldn't bother with another mayor.

this website is a good one as well:

But...was the saw mill there when you bought your house?

best of luck!

Hello Lorraine. Firstly did you send your letters to the Mayor by post for signature. I find that usually they like to bury there heads in the sand and simply say that they have not received it. Secondly when you have issues like this that have a local sensitive nature (ie with the Mayor as he may know them or may be friends with them if they are a long standing member of the community) it is best to copy in the prefecture and make sure that you put on the letter to the Mayor that is has been copied to the prefecture. He cannot ignore this then. There is a special department at the prefecture that deals with noise in residential areas and there are regulations. Thirdly, did they get permission to open a saw mill right next to your house. Where is the planning permission? Why were you not copied in on this. I think that this question should also be asked in the letter to the Mayor. You have not had time to object. Was tis a saw mill before you bought the house? Was it an existing business before you bought the house that had temporarily ceased business. I know that this seems to be a lot of questions but being armed with as much information as possible is the best line of defence. I would also ignore the fact that she is on the local council. This does not give them Carte Blanche to do as they please although she may have a hold on the mayor, but getting the prefecture involved will stop any local internal influence.