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Chateau d'If

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Made famous by Alexandre Dumas' classic 1840s' novel Le Comte de Monte Cristo (The Count of Monte Cristo), the 16th-century fortress-turned-prison Château d'If sits on a 12 sq mile (30 sq km) island, 2 miles (3.5km) west of the Vieux Port. Political prisoners were incarcerated here, along with hundreds of Protestants (many of whom perished in the dungeons), the Revolutionary hero Mirabeau, and the Communards of 1871. In 1890 the prison was closed and the island opened to the public. Whether The Count of Monte Christo, based on real-life José Custodio Faria, was ever imprisoned there is up for debate. The records of the prison say not, but the hole Dumas described him digging in the wall is quite visible. A short distance west of the Château d'If are the barren white-limestone islands of Ratonneau, Tiboulen and Pomègues, collectively known as the Îles du Frioul.

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