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A Novel Prison

By Linda Tancs

Off the coast of Marseille, France, on the Île d’If, Château d’If started out as a crucial fortress commissioned by Francis I. It became a state prison in the 1500s for anyone opposing official authority. Unlike Alcatraz (another prison island off the coast of San Francisco, California, boasting gangster Al Capone as a resident during its operation), one of its most famous inhabitants isn’t a real person at all. In Alexandre Dumas’s novel The Count of Monte Cristo, the protagonist Edmond Dantès was imprisoned there. You can visit his “cell” on the lower level of the prison. The perfectly preserved ramparts are a ferry ride away from Marseille.

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