Fodor's Expert Review Château d'If
In the 16th century, François I recognized the strategic advantage of an island fortress surveying the mouth of Marseille's vast harbor and built this imposing edifice. Its effect as a deterrent was so successful that the fortress never saw combat, and was eventually converted into a prison. It was here that Alexandre Dumas locked up his most famous character, the Count of Monte Cristo. Though the count was fictional, the hole through which Dumas had him escape is real enough, on display in the cells. On the other hand, the real-life Man in the Iron Mask, whose cell is also erroneously on display, was not imprisoned here. The Frioul If Express boat ride (from Quai des Belges, €10.50; for information call 04–96–11–03–50 or see frioul-if-express.com) and the views from the broad terrace are worth the trip.