Val Wineyard Publishing

Val Wineyard Publishing

Summer 2018 - Hello dear friends

I know, it's a year since I wrote!

 

This was because, for various reasons, I didn't know what to say!  I didn't want to write anything negative, au contraire, I wanted to give a positive impression and not moan . . .  but I wasn't happy living at Couiza.

 

  When I moved there at the tail end of 2015, I had foreseen a great future with lots of books sales, I had foreseen that because I was just a few minutes from Rennes-le-Château I could be there nearly every day.  I would be part of the Rennes-le-Château community.  I imagined all my books selling well at Lorrie's Angels and the shops in Rennes-le-Château.  It was quite a shock to me when Lorries' Angels closed, about three days after I moved to Couiza, and they had not said a word to me.  Also, they suddenly found lots of unsold books in cupboards, so what they owed me was very little.  Then, in the summer  of 2016, Ulpian bookshop in Couiza closed just when I was getting some sales from them and they were incidentally having more English visitors than ever before.   (They closed because the owner wanted to retire - they were straight as a die as regards money.)

 

It got worse.  Atelier Empreinte in Rennes-le-Château closed because they were bankrupt, it was closed for a year until Porte de Rennes took them over - and magnificently dedicated a whole wall to English books.  (I got paid, but many people didn't.)  I appreciated this but it was my only outlet, as the shop in Rennes-les-Bains had closed a long time ago, as had Lorries's Angels.  The summer of 2017 was quite good, but I had seen the writing on the wall, and this summer of 2018 has seen their sales of English books drop dramatically.  This is of course, because of Brexit.  The value of the pound has dropped so sharply that people can no longer afford holidays in the south of France.  (There's about 20% less Brits here.  Some guesthouses tell me their bookings are down by about 40%.)  As Rennes-le-Château has a short season at the best of times, there is now very little sales for books in English.

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To back-track, I first thought about selling my house in Couiza in the spring of 2017.  Various estate agents valued it at 70000€ and I saw a house in Lézignan that I liked the look of, at the same price.  I could do it!  Well, all the agents had no one wanting to look at my house in Couiza for that price and eventually I dropped the price by a massive 20000€ and still only had two viewings through agents.  I tried advertising privately, but of course, many of the viewers were estate agents masquerading as ordinary buyers, and their offers were ridiculously low.  I had to keep the people in Lézignan hanging on . . . . they re-advetised but not, thank goodness, for a lower price.

 

In the winter of 2017 to 2018, it rained every other day and it was cold.  I even posted on Facebook about this.  Everything was covered in damp, cold moss!  This lasted from November 2017 to March 2018.

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 Then came a miracle - my mother died and left me some money.  It was quite a bit less that 70K so I still had to sell my house in Couiza but I could be more flexible. . . I advertised privately and received a call from someone who had heard of the sale by word-of-mouth, he wanted to buy-to-let.  Well, I grabbed his hand off!  by a miracle the owners in Lézignan were prepared to wait and I eventually moved at Easter 2018.  Whew! 

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My terrace, evening.

 

All this sort of thing in France at the moment is so uncertain that people sometimes need 4 or 5 years to sell a house - I was one of the lucky ones because I was in a position to be flexible about the price.

 

Why Lézignan-Corbières?  Well, it is about half-way between Carcassonne and Narbonne and they call it the largest village in the region.  It's true there is a village atmosphere in the town centre, with everyone in the cafés calling each other by their first names.  It was just a few kilometres from my old village, Canet d'Aude where many English friends lived and I'd missed them!  I'd known some for 12 or 15 years.

 

Meanwhile, Rennes-le-Château had changed.  Around about the time I moved to live at Couiza - late summer 2015 - great plans were announced for a new tourist office at Rennes-le-Château.  This was built between Bérenger's presbytère and his villa.  The entire integrity of his design - of villa, beveldere, Tour Magdala etc - was broken, even though the municipality declared they were building it in an Eiffel Tower design, to reflect the 1890s. which were Bérenger's best years.  Then it became more that a tourist office - a corner was dedicated, for example, to the sale of monsieur le maire's second-hand books that he purchased when Atelier Empreinte went broke!  And Kris Darquis my French translator started to sell Claudia Procula books in French at a reduced price! when I was the publisher!

 

Anyway, I am now happy at Lézignan, it is a large town but basically a village, with lots going on and I am close to my old friends.  I have a garden for the first time in 14 years and my little dog loves it!  We go for walks to the village market and cafés, she was so shy at Couiza, but with the wide pavements here she feels safe.  There is a station with trains to Narbonne and Carcassonne (connections to Rennes-le-Château) except the railwaymen are on strike at the moment and they won't give in.  I'm on their side!  The village centre is being renovated - grand opening day on 1st September and I like the whole place very much indeed.

 

AND I have converted the attic into a guest suite, so if you want to come and stay, let me know!

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15/08/2018
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