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 unquestionably the best winter resort in the world. Our appreciation of the skiing quickly extended to the whole experience: the superb wine (first growth Bordeaux always - preferably Chateaux Latour or Lafite), wonderful 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 step to the Mediterranean. The South of France has of course been welcoming generations of the newly rich to its unique charms, and for us the attractions are no different: the lifestyle, the glamour, the nightclubs, the shopping - and above all, the opportunities for yachting on a grand scale - proved irresistible.
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 alfresco lunch there is still, by a long way, the best on the French Riviera.
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.
Beachwear has to be a kaftan from Missoni; bikinis from La Perla or Melissa Odabash; beach shoes from Hermes or Chanel; and some funky jewellery maybe from Stephen Webster. 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.
If we are dining in St Tropez and going on to the nightclub - which we normally do - then I need to have 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 moored in the harbour with an empty cabin.
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 goluboÄ (6), you need to get with the channel!
(3) Multitudes, armies
(6) Gay, raver
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Ella Krasner is a Russian-born, American-raised patron of the Arts and humanitarian causes and a writer on Russian architecture. She juggles her life between New York, London, and Moscow. She considers herself first and foremost a Russian - however her Western upbringing enables her to cast an objective and humorous eye over the lifestyle of her fellow Russians. www.diaryofalondonrussianista.com/
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