Immortalized by Alexandre Dumas' intrepid protagonist Edmond Dantes in 'The Count of Monte Cristo' (Le Comte de Monte Cristo), the 16th-century fortress of Château d'If has allured history and literature buffs since it opened to the public in 1890. Perched on a rocky islet west of Marseille's Port Vieux (Old Port), the fortress-turned-jail incarcerated anyone opposing official authority between 1580 and 1871, endowing it with the status of one of France's most significant historical landmarks.The Basics
For a holistic introduction to Marseille's rich history, combine your visit to Château d'If with a sightseeing tour or shore excursion of Marseille city, a jewel in the coastal crown of the French Riviera. Tick off Cathedrale de la Major, Notre-Dame de la Garde church, and Fort Saint-Jean before a guided tour of Château d'If. For travelers that prefer to explore independently, a Marseille city pass (valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours) covers your entry and boat ride to Château d'If, in addition to admission to 13 of Marseille's museums and a free walking tour.
If you've got limited time in Provence, a full-day cruise from Marseille to Cassis comes highly recommended — the panoramic views of the Côte d'Azur, the Gulf of Cassis, and the rocky promontories of the Marseille calanques reveal themselves in sun-drenched splendor. Afterwards, enjoy a guided tour of Château d'If that reveals the fortress' history.
How to Get to Château d'If
- A visit to the fortress is ideal for history and literature enthusiasts.
- Audio guides are available in 11 languages.
- Take a packed lunch or book a tour with an included meal, as only ice cream and drinks are available to purchase on the island of If.
- If venturing to If independently, put aside three hours to cover the round-trip journey from Marseille and the fortress and island tour.
From Vieux Port in Marseille, the Frioul If Express departs every hour, with the last departure from Marseille running at 4:05pm. The journey only takes 20 minutes and offers beautiful views of the Mediterranean's Frioul archipelago, which, in addition to If island, includes the islands of Pomegues and Ratonneau.When to Get There
Château d'If is open between 10am and 6pm throughout the year but closed on Mondays. Due to its coastal location, it is more pleasant to visit on a warm and sunny afternoon. The summer months of June through September are prime for their warm climate and balmy coastal breeze.