Castles & Historic Buildings

Château d'If off Marseille
If you've ever read the Man in the Iron Mask, then you've heard of this notorious fortresses. The château was built by François I in 1524 to defend Marseille. To reach the jail, you must take a boat in the harbour to the offshore island.

Palais des Papes in Avignon
The palace of seven French Popes during the 14th Century. From 1352 to 1377, the seven popes ruled here in a period now called "the Babylonian Captivity." However, while living here, they didn't act very popely and instead indulged their fleshly weaknesses. As a result, the Italian poet Petrarch denounced the palace as "the shame of mankind, a sink of vice." Even after Gregory XI returned to Rome, some cardinals remained and elected their own pope or "anti-pope," who was finally expelled by force in 1403.

The Palais des Papes is one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Built between 1335 and 1364 on a natural rocky outcrop at the northern edge of Avignon, the Palace overlooks the Rhône River. Previous to the building of the Papal Palace, the site was formerly occupied by the old episcopal palace of the bishops of Avignon. The Palace is a must see with its wonderful architecture and art.

Château de la Napoule in La Napoule
It's the Riviera's most eccentric château. And it's also the most fascinating. Purchased in 1917 by American sculptor Henry Clews, heir to a banking fortune, Clews spent his life here creating a grotesque menagerie of scorpions, pelicans, gnomes, monkeys, lizards, etc.

Villa Kérylos in Beaulieu
Imagine - an ancient Greek palace in France! This faithful reconstruction was built between 1902 and 1908 by the archaeologist, Théodore Reinach. Reinach lived here for 20 years. More than a bit odd, Reinach and his male friends pretended to be Athenian citizens and cavorted around gayly (the parties are legendary) while the women were segregated to separate suites. It's now designated a historic monument of France.