My favourite place: Vézelay, France

In the August 2016 issue of BBC History Magazine, Julian Humphrys selects Vézelay as his favourite place. History Extra caught up with him to find out more...

The medieval hilltop village of Vézelay in north central France enjoys a spectacular location. (Photo by Andia/UIG via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the August 2016 issue of BBC History Magazine 

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Q: When did you last travel to Vézelay and why?

A: I last went to Vézelay last December for an anniversary weekend. It was a great chance to unwind, overdose on coffee, enjoy the local cuisine and wine and explore the abbey church in complete peace and quiet.

Q: Which historical sites would you recommend and why?

A: The abbey church is a must. It’s a stunning building and its Romanesque sculptures are the best of their kind anywhere. Leave plenty of time to mooch around Vézelay’s medieval streets and don’t miss the spectacular views from the walk around the ramparts.

Q: During which period of its history would you most wanted to have visited Vézelay and why?

A: I’m always hesitant about saying I want to go back to the Middle Ages – I’m convinced I’d end up being set upon by the locals – but I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when Richard the Lionheart met Philip Augustus in Vézelay. I wonder how they got on.

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

A: Ever since I studied the period at university I’ve wanted to visit the Crusader Castles of the Holy Land and in particular the wonderful Krak des Chevaliers. Unfortunately, recent events suggest that I may never get the chance.

Julian Humphrys is development officer for the Battlefields Trust. For details of his tour to Vézelay later this year, follow him at @GeneralJules.

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You can read more about his experiences in Vézelay in the August 2016 issue of BBC History Magazine.