If you think British bloodsports are bad, just take a look at the Frenchby Tim King / March 20, 2001 / Leave a comment
Published in March 2001 issue of Prospect Magazine
The old man from whom I bought the house did warn me. “If you’re in the garden when they start,” he said, “it’s safer to go indoors.” Since the house is a peaceful farm up in the hills of southern France where at that moment there was nothing more violent than the sound of cicadas, I assumed his warning was an old man’s mocking of the know-it-all younger generation. Anyway, Monsieur Sablier did not strike me as the type to dash indoors just because the local hunt was coming through. He shrugged at my disbelief: “They’ve taken the odd shot at me.” Then as if by way of explanation: “They’re my neighbours.” Most of the high toll of hunting accidents are put down to the settling of scores.
A paysan born and bred, Monsieur Sablier does not hunt. Nor do 97 per cent of his countrymen. But a law banning it is nevertheless unthinkable: and not only in la France profonde-the idea raises just as many smiles in my other “home”: the cosmopolitan city of Montpellier. “Hunting is an inalienable right,” says a lawyer friend, “after all, it’s a legacy of the Revolution.” My baker prefers a less intellectual reason: passion. “The hunter is consumed by it. And where passion’s concerned… Look how long the church has been trying to stop adultery.”