On our trip to Marseille, one of the excursions we did was to visit the Chateau D’If. I highly recommend visiting Chateau D If as a highlight of any Marseille visit. In addition to visiting the museum and the Cathedral , we chose this. As a big fan of “The Count of Monte Cristo”, l was more than happy to visit the setting of that thrilling adventure. Federico had never heard of the story, so he was excited, and has seen the movie at least twice since.
Click here for your free travel insurance quote
Chateau D’If History:
Chateau d if is a fortress that later became a prison and is a mile off the coast of Marseille. It was built on the orders of King Francis 1st who had decided it would be a strategic point to defend Marseille from attackers. The commenced building in 1524 and completed it in 1531. The funny part was that Chateau D’If was never used in an attack. The closest it ever came to being invaded was in 1531 when the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V decided, but then gave up the idea of attacking it. This was a good thing because it turned out the rocks were pretty useless, the whole fortress had been built really badly with sub par rocks and would probably have fallen in an attack. Chateau D’If meaning? If is the French word for the Yew tree
It however made an excellent, pretty much escape proof prison, thanks to its isolated location. A lot of prisoners were sent there to serve out their terms. The poor prisoners were kept on the bottom, where the cells were windowless. The richer men were able to buy their way to private cells on the upper floor with windows to the outside world, even fireplaces which l can confirm would have been needed as the cells were cold and damp. It reminded me of my Alcatraz in San Francisco with the look and feel, and the fact that you can watch what you are missing in the real world – freedom! We were “locked” in a cell during that tour and after a few minutes, I remember feeling claustrophobic and wanting to get out.
Alexandre Dumas, the author, used Chateau D’If in the famous novel about Edmund Dantes who managed to escape from the fortress. This is fiction of course, as no one is known to have escaped from there. Apparently, his story was based on a real life prisoner there who was a cobbler that had been wrongly accused of treachery and was thrown in jail . There is a cell named for Edmond Dantes at the Chateau D’if which is now only via tour boats taken from the Vieux Port. The Chateau D’If movie is The Count of Monte Cristo. A great revenge movie that should be seen and getting to see Chateau D gives me a kicka
Chateau d’if tour: Our visit was a lot of fun, the boat was packed and the ride took about half an hour. We were able to skip the line to get in with our passes. I would have been completely miserable there as a prisoner :-( . The cells are so depressing and cold, but nobody ever said prison was supposed to be fun. We climbed the stairs to the top and it is quite an impressive 360 degree view.
The Chateau D’If has been open to the public since 1890 since being demilitarized. I enjoyed the tour very much, and l would definitely do it again. You know, we had so many people telling us to skip Marseille, but l am so glad we didn’t listen. It is a wonderful and delightful city with lots of history, and the people we found very warm, the city is certainly no more dangerous than any big city. If you have an opportunity to visit, you should :-) . Federico and l both agreed that we could live there. Yeah.. We liked it that much. The housing seems a bit pricey (we checked :-) ), but you can understand why when you see all it has to offer. For other fun stuff to do in Marseille, make sure to check out our chock full of good stuff Marseille guide.
Should you visit Le Chateau D If? Yes you should. It is one of the top highlights of Marseille with good reason. Wheter or not Chateau D’If was built shabbily or not, it is still a very impressive sight. The fact that it is still standing after almost 500 years alone makes it amazing, not to mention seeing a bit of history into the cruel and inhumane conditions under which people were subjected.
Related Reading: Notre Dame Marseille
Pin and Share:
Have you been to Marseille or Chateu D’If? If so, did you enjoy it? Would you recommend it for others?