The Chateau d’If, situated just off the coast of Marseille, is a former French naval base and prison that was immortalized by Alexandre Dumas in the novel The Count of Monte Cristo. Visit the island fortress to see its jail cells and enjoy panoramic views of the city of Marseille.
Perched on a rocky islet in the Mediterranean, west of the Old Port of Marseille (Vieux Port), the Chateau d’If fortress was built in 1524 to protect the city from invaders and was used as a state prison until the late 19th century. Anyone opposing authority in the city might find themselves incarcerated here, especially those who opposed royal rule.
For insight into the fascinating history of the Mediterranean coast in France, join a guided tour of the region that includes a visit to the fortress along with stops in other notable towns, such as Aix-en-Provence and Cassis.
Things to know before you go
- Chateau d’If is only accessible by boat.
- Purchase a skip-the-line ticket to save time.
- The fortress has steep stairs and uneven passages that may be challenging for people with limited mobility.
- Audio guides are available in a variety of languages, including English.
- Poor weather conditions can affect boat service to and from the site.
How to get there
The Chateau d’If is located just off the coast of Marseille. Regular boat services run to and from the island year-round. Services depart from two locations: the Old Port (Vieux Port) and nearby Fort Saint-Jean. Some boats offer the option to stop at the Frioul Islands on the same trip.
When to get there
The fortress is open all year round, Tuesday–Sunday. Marseille has pleasant temperatures in all seasons, and July and August are the busiest times of year in this tourist-friendly city.
A charming market town and artist’s colony, Aix-en-Provence is one of Provence’s most picturesque and well-known spots. Visit on a market day (Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday), and stroll through the stalls of fresh produce before finding a cafe terrace along the main street, the Cours Mirabeau, where you can sit down to lunch with a cold glass of rosé wine.