Privet Dorogaya! (1)
We Russians certainly enjoy a summer holiday! In the past, we used to spend the summer months at our dachas in countryside outside Moskva, or on the Black Sea coast - the smart destination for Russia's ruling class.
While there is still plenty of fun to be had there - for example Vladimir Vladimirovich is said to be building a holiday house on the Black Sea - and where our President goes, Russia's elite inevitably follows - for many of us the glamour of the Mediterranean is now more alluring.
The reasons why we began increasingly to look abroad for our amusement are easy to understand. It began with Courchevel - for us the best winter resort in the world. Our appreciation of the skiing quickly extended to the whole experience: the superb French wine (preferably Chateaux Latour or Lafite), great food, the shopping and - at least to begin with - the French hospitality (until they started too much overcharging us!).
And from there, it was just a short flight to the Mediterranean. The South of France has of course been welcoming generations of the newly rich to its charms, and for us the attractions are no different: the lifestyle, the glamour, the nightclubs, the shopping - and above all, the opportunities for "Mine's bigger than yours" yachting - proved irresistible!
Of course it's ryannoy (2) but - as if you couldn't guess - we Russians actually quite like that! However, we like to think we are a cut above the 'Eurotrash'. We may have the same taste for designer labels and pokaznoy (3) resort like St Tropez - but we will always be definably Russian. Whereas the Euros could be from anywhere, from Rome to Paris or Geneva: they have no identity.
So nowadays, typically we either take a house on Cap d'Antibes or we check in to the Hotel du Cap for the months of July and August and keep it as a base for the summer.
The routine is pretty much the same every year: the wives and children stay in the South of France during July, whilst the husbands continue working in Moskva and fly down to join us each weekend.
In the week, we spend time with our friends and children at each other's villas for barbecues and swimming. Or we might take a shopping trip to Cannes followed by lunch on the terrace at the Hotel du Cap - the lunch on the terrace there is the best on the Riviera.
In the evening, despite those with villas employing mnozestva (4) of chefs, butlers, housekeepers and maids, we often go out to supper with friends, or to a local restaurant such as Bacon, Tetou or Les Pecheurs.
Midweek, we leave the children with the babushka for a few days and fly over to St Tropez by helicopter to have some fun.
We lunch every day at the 55 Beach Club. Russian women don't eat or drink a lot (the days of well-built wives of the Politburo in the communist era are long gone!) so we usually order a salad and share a bottle of Cristal or rose.
For a watch, I wear my rose gold Rolex (after 10 yrs of living on and off in the UK, I have finally learnt to be understated like you anglyski - well at least during the day!). The more 'Russian' of my friends might go for a diamond Franck Muller or Breguet.
As for Svetlana: you guessed it, she wore the diamond Chopard she had bought in Paris. At one point, it caught the sun and nearly blinded an attractive young waiter, who narrowly avoided tipping the salade nicoise down her front. (Knowing Svetlana, this was probably her plan, as he would then have to clean it off!)
If we are dining in St Tropez and then going on dancing - which we invariably do - then I need somewhere to stay, because the helicopter doesn't fly after dark. If they have a room, I stay at the Chateau Messardiere - if not, one of my girlfriends usually has a Mangusta with a spare cabin, moored in the harbour.
After dinner we always go to Caves du Roy nightclub, sometimes until 7.30am - though I rarely make it beyond 3.30am! Op-as-nyy (5) you might think, but we tend to stay together, finding that there's safety in numbers. And anyway, why would we jeopardise everything we have - our husbands, our families, our way of life - for the sake of a one night stand with some Riviera povesa (6)?! (Well - Svetlana would, but she doesn't count!) Also - like anywhere else - the gossip would get back to Antibes before we did.
You might ask, with the amount of time we spend in St Tropez, why we choose to stay in Cap d'Antibes. The reason is quite simply that for us it is more peaceful and relaxing, and more family friendly. St Tropez is not for family holidays, it's for parties - and you can hardly take your children for lunch at 55! In August, we are going to Mykonos. For those of you who think that it is just for goluboĭ (7), you are big mistaken!
Do svidanya! (8)
(1) Hello Darlings!
(8) Bye for now!