A must-see

article | Reading time3 min

A trip to nearby lands

l'île d'If dans la rade de Marseille

Tired of crowds? Fancy a change of scenery, a chance to dream, a brief escape from this cruel world? You don’t have to go very far! Visit the Castle of If and in a short space of time you’ll get a huge breath of fresh air – without travelling many miles.

If, a destination

Revitalising, educational crossing

It’s true I’m afraid – to get to an island you have to go on a boat. And on an adventure! Just think: the warm Provençal sunshine on your face, a refreshing sea breeze in your hair. And you’re off!

Explore some of Marseille’s heritage around the Old Port then, during the crossing, admire the Marseille coastline, including the Côte Bleue, from the Nerthe mountains to the beaches of the city’s southern districts.

Vue du château depuis le bateau
Vue du château d'If depuis le bateau

© Antoinette Gorioux / CMN

A château of history and legend

Did you know that the first time François I set foot on If, it was to marvel at an Indian rhinoceros ? And that such a pachyderm hadn't been seen in Europe since the 3rd century A.D. ?

You'll learn how a royal fortress defending one of France 's most important ports became a sinister prison, with inmates both real and imaginary!

The Castle of If also features some incredible graffiti, like a frieze unfolding over the course of its history...

And then there's Edmond Dantès, the terrible avenger better known as the Count of Monte Cristo... No need to say more. Come and immerse yourself!

gravure réalisé par l'artiste Durer qui représente un rhinocéros.
Le rhinocéros, par Dürer


An exceptional natural beauty spot

When you get to the top of the castle, forget about history for a minute and just admire the view: whichever way you look, nature is all around.

You'll float like a Yellow-legged Gull, the famous "gabian", or a Short-toed Eagle... A what? The circaetus is a bird of prey characterized by its hovering flight. Don't forget the pale swift , which nests in the ramparts. If you prefer the cow floor, you can slip into the shoes of the European phyllodactyl, a very discreet nocturnal lizard. On If, part of the Parc national des Calanques many other protected species...

So don’t be slow – don’t forget “tempus fugit” and all that! 

un gabian
Un gabian

© Antoinette Gorioux / CMN

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