The hot spell has broken. The thunder is rumbling, the rain is falling and my visitors have gone home. Now it’s not like I think because I’ve lived here all of six months that I ‘own’ Paris but certainly I feel I’ve built up a special relationship with it and, almost like introducing my family to a new boyfriend, I wanted my mother and sister to love it as much as I do.

We did the usual suspect sites when my parents visited last year but being that between hip and knee replacements my dad is basically bionic from the waist down, we could only negotiate the city at a rather subdued shuffle before I eventually pointed them in the direction of a tour bus.

However this year, seeing as Dad now also has a busted arm, my mother decided to visit tout seul, leaving father in the capable/bullying hands of his youngest daughter. With inevitable part time expat arrogance, I fully intended to show my mother the ‘real’ Paris.

Funnily enough, she wasn’t quite as enamoured of Bagnolet as I. Maybe large groups of men gathered at street corners, the odd discarded mattress and oven and rather pervasive smell of pee may maybe one person’s charming quirky community but another’s potentially explosive and rapist thronged ghetto.

What’s more she arrived the same day as a heat wave, more ‘reality’ then we counted on. However heat or no heat, Mum and I sweated through the Marais, struggled up the 105 stairs to Sacre Couer, had ice creams at the Paris Plages, turned up our noses at the jewellery on the Place du Vendome and as well as lot more I barely recall. Unshackled from my father’s dodgy knees, my mother turned into an unstoppable Duracell tourist bunny and it was I who had to bed to stop every so often for ‘a little rest’. What’s more it was also I who ended up learning about Paris.

Mum has a self admittedly oddly auspergic memory. While she might very easily mix up the names of her six off spring and forget where she’s put her keys even while driving, she can remember stories and details of historical figures that their own parents would have trouble remembering. Her knowledge of history, combined with a love of lurid celeb gossip contributed to my discovering the city as if from a really really ancient back copy of the National Enquirer.

In the Place du Vosges, she conjured up the death of poor King Henri IV, from a sword through the eye received during a ‘friendly duel’. At Le Fumoir, she painted a vivid picture of the Saint Bartholomew massacre signaled by the bell peals of the church next door to where we sipped our lemonades. Meanwhile at the Musee Carnavalet she pointed out the portrait of the original blogger extraordinaire Madame de Senvigne, whose letters to her daughter, jammed with gossip from the public court cases, would have made Perez Hilton salivate.

My sister, on the other hand, has a vague awareness that the city is old. But other then wanting a quick glance at the Eiffel tower, she was more interested in the more sensory side of Paris, ie, the wine, the coffee and boulangeries and especially the hugely luxurious and expensive candles and perfume shops to be found in the Marais.

Occasionally I’d insist we go and absorb a bit of culture, but mostly we absorbed calories from falafel pitas bought on the Rue de Rosiers from cafes decorated with pictures of rabbis.

Now they are gone and it’s just me and the city together again. However while I was intending to show Mum and my sister ‘my Paris’ , I was also lucky enough to meet their versions of the city and now I feel I know and love it all the more.

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