On the sparsely vegetated island of If is the infamous prison, Château d'If, which is best known as the penal setting for Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. François I built the fortress here to defend Marseille and its port in the 16th century, and the site later housed a state prison which was notorious for incarcerating enemies of the royalty. The cells are horribly well-preserved; carvings by Huguenot prisoners can still be seen inside some of them. On a lighter note, the views back towards Marseille and the mountains beyond are wonderful to behold and the trip over in a boat is enjoyable. The ferry to the island will not run if the weather is bad and opening and closing times can change in accordance with the ferry schedule.
Telephone: (0)4 9159 0230
Transport: Boats for If leave hourly from the Quai des Belges, on the Vieux Port, between 9am and 6pm
Opening times: 16 May to 16 September: open daily 9.30am to 6.10pm. 17 September to 31 March: closed Mondays and open every other day from 9.30am to 4.45pm. 1 April to 15 May: open daily 9.30 to 4.45.
Admission: Castle and Island: ï¿½5.50 (adults); free for those under 18, and those under 25 if members of EU states. Concessions available.