Tuesday, May 12, 2015


One of the curiosities about France is that, while it holds a ridiculous number of territories outside its geographical borders, it is quite incapable of maintaining authority over the whole of its actual geographical territory. Think of Andorra, which is independent, or Brittany, which would like to be, or the number of times Alsace and Lorraine have wandered back and forth into and out of French possession. Think of the French Riviera and you immediately think of Nice, Cannes, St Tropez and Monte Carlo – and you are wrong. Monte Carlo is in Monaco, and it occupies a space of land so small that you could fit it into Central Park in New York and still have almost half the park available for other purposes (mostly jogging and transsexual prostitution as far as I can tell); on the other hand, one cannot imagine Central Park and its surrounding streets being converted into a Formula I Grand Prix racing circuit once every year, though I am sure it would be very popular (most of the taxi drivers already think it is). Why does Monaco exist? Because the French need tax havens that they can access in person as well as online – why else? And Grace Kelly of course, but she only married into Monaco, so she doesn't really count.

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