Laurence Lemoine is a remarkable member of the Valencia ex-pat community, and one whose background includes sharing the bicentennial celebrations in New York in 1986 with the likes of the Reagans and President Mitterrand, but also a blindfolded encounter with PLO leader Yasser Arafat in Tunis in 1990, which apparently included a marriage proposal.
The first of those encounters was at the age of 16 when (with, as she admits, a lot of help from her father) she won a poetry prize and was selected to represent France at the celebrations, and particularly for the reopening of the statue of liberty, which of course was a gift from the French people to America.
The contacts she made in New York, plus her studies of political science in Paris, helped her fulfil her childhood ambition of becoming a journalist, and led her into the presence of Arafat, and also of the current President of Lebanon Michel Aoun.
Since then she has worked in a variety of media and a shopping list of countries, including war-torn Lebanon at the end of the turbulent 80s.
Born near Versailles into a large family, including a twin brother, from an early age she dreamed of being a journalist, copying the news from the radio and then practising by reading it aloud.
Later she would be able to mix two of her passions; working at Radio Montblanc and being near the mountains that she loves.
However, the need to broaden her horizons led her away from France again to work on the radio in Haiti. It was here that the Valencian connection started as she met her Valencian husband, an entrepreneur.
Him being an international businessman, international travel became the norm, and they lived successively in Portugal, London and Paris, and Gambia, where one of her children was born, the other having been born in Valencia.
It was also in Gambia that she started writing and publishing travel guides. The guide to Gambia would be followed by Sagunto, Burriana, Andalusia and Saint Gervais.
Laurence’s guides have been published in English, French and Spanish, and a conversation with her is a cocktail of all three, as she effortlessly moves from one to the other.
Significantly this French woman in Spain sends her children to a British school, Caxton College.
Since settling in Valencia in 1997, she was continued to write for both French and Spanish media, but Laurence is a people person, and so in March 2017 she formalised something she had been doing for years, helping other foreign professionals settle in Valencia or other parts of Spain, such as Madrid, Alicante, Barcelona, Benicassim, Javea or Marbella.
She offers a wide range of services, including notaries, real estate agents, lawyers, tax specialists, brokers, accountants, sworn interpreters; but possibly most important, she becomes a friend to all of those seeking the Valencian dream, introducing them to like-minded people and including them in all the events and activities that she attends, such as Valencia International’s Dragon Route, which is where I met her.
While we spoke she was helping at least three people; Simon from the UK, looking to try teaching in Valencia, Javi a Valencian engineer hoping to return to Valencia after not falling in love in or with Paris, and Isabel, a French interior designer from eastern France hoping to continue her career here.
Laurence has clients from all over the world, including the USA, Australia, Finland, Belgium and Algeria, and probably sells Valencia with more enthusiasm and genuine passion than the Valencian Tourist Board. As many people have said to her, she is the most Valencian Parisian and the most Parisian Valencia.