Don't tell you've never heard of the Count of Monte Cristo. Though created by Alexandre Dumas, this character is still considered a real person by millions. And certain sites in France just prove his legacy.
If you're visiting French Riviera and happen to be in Marseille, book yourselves at least three hours for a boat trip to Château d'If. Located just two kilometres from the shores of Marseille, the island draws a number of visitors to an old prison castle where, according to the novel, Edmond Dantès had been imprisoned under perfidiously fabricated charges.
You will find a ferry to the Frioul and If islands on the left side of the Old Port of Marseille. During the high season quite a line streches from the ticket office, which moves rather slowly. So be smart and leave somebody from your company at another line waiting for the ferry while you try to book the tickets. Otherwise, you can miss the ferry, as it is not large and the number of passengers is limited.
The ferry stops at If first and then sails to its final destination - the Port of Frioul. However, it doesn't necessarily mean the ferry will stop at If on its way back, if it is already fully seated in Frioul. Therefore, our advice is to buy a round trip in Marseille to the final destination of Frioul even you're heading solely to If (there's no ferry ticket office at the island and you might be stuck there much longer than you've intended).
The journey to If takes approximately 20 minutes and it's rather refreshing, if you decide to sit outside on the deck. In this case you will also be able to take marvelous pictures of a receding Marseille and an approaching island.
The island is tiny with the castle on one side and the beacon on another. There's an additional entrance fee to the castle. Then you're ready to enter the fortress, which was turned into a real prison in the 16th century.
Of course, the main attraction point is two cells of the famous prisoners - Abbé Faria and Edmond Dantès. There' actually a tunnel unsuccessfully dug by Abbé Faria not to the freedom but to Edmond Dantès'cell, which after all helped him out of the prison and to new adventures as the Count of Monte Cristo.
If you climb up to the very top of the tower, you will be offered a stunning panorama of surrounding blue sea and other islands in the archipelago as well as the distant Marseille. Just be aware of a strong sea breeze!
The visit to the castle won't take long but if you'll feel thirsty or even hungry, there's a small restaurant where you can get the Edmond Dantès menu.
The blue of the sea around is so tempting to take a swim but for this you have to take the ferry further to Frioul, which is known for its beautiful beaches.
Have a nice day!
P.S. Still have no idea who that Monte Cristo was? Well, grab the novel and plunge into the turmoil of love, hatred and revenge!
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