My favourite place: Janina Ramirez

In the July issue of BBC History Magazine, Dr Janina Ramirez selects the rocky island of Mont Saint Michel in France as her favourite historical destination. HistoryExtra caught up with her to find out more...

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Q: When did you last travel to Mont Saint Michel?

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A: August 2013

Q: What top three sights would you recommend people visit while they are visiting the island?

A: The view from the second level in front of the abbey, looking over the sea, is wonderful and I’d also recommend people have a look around the recently discovered remains of the ninth-century church.

The cloister with its recreated Benedictine garden is definitely worth a visit: the smell of herbs and flowers, blended with the sea, is wonderful. The cloister is unusual, in that it stands separate to the abbey buildings, facing the sea.

Q: What item would you suggest visitors take with them during a visit?

A: A foldable stool, as you’ll need to rest along the way to the abbey!

Q: What souvenir should people bring back home with them?

A: A statue of St Michael – he may give you the protection he’s said to give the island

Q: During what period of its history would you most wanted to have visited Mont Saint Michel and why?

A: I would love to have visited the site during the Hundred Years War (a series of conflicts between England and France, from 1337–1453). Although the place was falling apart, and immorality was rife within the walls, the monks and knights were part of an important resistance movement.

Q: Where else in the world would you most like to visit?

A: I would like to explore Mexico and the great Mayan and Aztec ruins like Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan. They lie outside of my comfort zone, as most of my research revolves around Britain and Europe, but I want to channel my inner Lara Croft and discover some of their secrets.

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What readers think of Mont Saint Michel

A medieval paradise sadly saddled with a plethora of tourists. Nonetheless worth the climb to the top!
@NathenAmin

Amazingly evocative views as the sun sets
@RudeGenealogist

Walk to the island after dark when the tourists leave. Magical!
@catconner

Don’t be put off by the crowds and the shops selling tourist tat. It’s the nearest you’ll get to the medieval experience
@GeneralJules

MSM appears on the Bayeux Tapestry, which was very likely designed by one of its former monks
@Longshanks1307

Next month, Michael Scott visits the Greek town of Delphi. Share your tips for would-be travellers on Twitter  (@HistoryExtra) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/HistoryExtra)

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You can read Janina’s feature on Mont Saint Michel in the July issue of BBC History Magazine – out now