Monaco is a tiny independent principality that lies between Nice and Menton, about an hour's drive from us. I went there in November 2000 with my brother, Simon. Monaco covers just 2 square kilometres and the population is just over 30 000. Although it's officially independent of France, it does not have its own currency (though it does have its own stamps) and certain key posts such as the Minister of the Interior are appointed by Paris.

The above panoramic view is pretty much the view from Princess Caroline's bedroom at the royal palace, although she did not actually invite me there (we just chatted for a while in the drawing room as I had to continue my tour with Simon). The mountains in the far distance are in Italy. The slopes backing Monaco are steep, so the concentration of apartment towers reminds us of Hong Kong, though Monaco's towers are relatively modest in height, rarely exceeding a dozen floors.

All these pictures were taken close to the Royal Palace which is located atop an impressive rocky peninsula. Outside the palace, a fleet of British Jaguars and Bentleys dominate the square.

Whereas the above photo looked east from the palace, the one below looks west.

The photo above shows the back of the casino, which faces the sea. Below left, another shot of the concrete cliff that is Monaco. Below right, a photo taken in February 2001 when I went back to Monaco, this time with my lovely wife.