Montmartre sits at the highest point of Paris. It is topped by the basilica of Sacre Coeur, as close to God as a Parisian might hope to get, at least in terms of altitude. We visit at night. It is wet, but not rainy.
People gather on the steps, drinking rosé, rolling their own. Vendors hawk glow toys and gold-painted Eiffel Towers. Buskers sing American folk songs with French accents. The basilica is dark, and as the sky darkens, it’s lights flicker on, it’s white illumination punctuating the Parisian skyline.
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It is three weeks later. We leave Paris on Wednesday. Ali-Sun and I return to Sacre Coeur in the afternoon, with the sun bright but not hot.
We enter the basilica and sit in the pews. The red stained glass on the west burns bright in the direct sun. The purple and blue stained glass on the east is soft and cool. Sunlight streams through the cupola above, illuminating stone angels high on the walls within.
We walk to the park nearby, a small patch of grass on an angle, sunlight now disappearing behind the trees. Parisians lay out, talk on cell phones and to each other, drinking rosé, rolling their own.