It's summer - and world leaders head for sun, sea and a little state business

Blair family leads in informality, while Jiang takes the whole office to the beach

Across the globe, trouser legs are being rolled up and sun cream rubbed in. It is the holiday season, for everyone - including world leaders.

The world's swankiest hotels, best beaches and tightest security are at the disposal of heads of government. Benjamin Netanyahu takes a photocall in the Mediterranean with his family, and a phalanx of bodyguards. Jacques Chirac chooses a tropical hotel patronised by royalty and pop stars. And Peking's leaders have the best beaches at the popular Chinese resort of Beida He cordoned off for their private use.

But many choose a simpler holiday. Informality, epitomized by Tony Blair, is very much in tune with the holiday manners of the modern world leader.

Mr Blair, polishing his European credentials, has spent half his holiday in Tuscany and half in France, where he will later this week meet with Lionel Jospin, his Socialist counterpart the French Prime Minister. "I know he lives nearby. We will see one another," said Mr Blair, as though he hoped to bump into Mr Jospin in the fresh fruit and vegetable section of the local hypermarche. Increasingly, business and leisure are mixed.

The Clintons showed the common touch by dressing in baggy T-shirts and running shorts. But they were at Martha's Vineyard, that ultra-trendy haunt of the monied, old and new, and the White House press corps went along too, for staged photo-opportunities and "impromptu" statements on current events.

Russia's Boris Yeltsin spent half his holiday on the Volga and half in Kareli in the north, where he relaxed in a newly renovated government dacha by a lake, which was closed to the public and filled with thousands of fish to ensure the President's success with rod and line.

The working element of the holiday in Kareli was that Mr Yeltsin played host to the Finnish President, Martti Ahtisaari. It must have been an odd experience for Mr Ahtisaari to be a guest in Kareli, which used to belong to Finland until the Soviet Union seized it at the end of the Second World War. Perhaps even odder, he found himself in a sauna being energetically beaten with birch twigs by the President of Russia, an experience few will be able to record on their postcards

In the past, Israeli prime ministers did not usually take holidays - or if they did, they frolicked so discreetly no one noticed. But Benjamin Netanyahu has broken the mould this summer. He is Israel's first yuppie prime minister, the first to have grown up in the less austere climate of the US, the first to have small children while in office.

Inevitably, the Netanyahus being the Netanyahus, the holiday he bagan last Wednesday turned into one big photo- opportunity. Bibi, Sara and their two sons, Yair, six, and Avner, two, playing on the beach at Caesarea, the upmarket Mediterranean resort where a businessman friend lent them his villa. Hizbollah, alas, spoilt the fun. Mr Netanyahu broke his vacation on Tuesday to sympathise with the people of Kiryat Shmona, whose homes were hit by Katyusha rockets from Lebanon.

The French President, Jacques Chirac, has just finished his holiday, and returned to Paris on Tuesday after three weeks in the tropics. He started in La Reunion, in the Indian Ocean, and then moved on to Mauritius, 150 miles away. One of the advantages of a colonial heritage is that La Reunion is under French control, and is not considered a colony, but rather as a French territory. Mr. Chirac was staying with his wife Bernadette, their daughter and their grandson, in a hotel which has entertained the likes of Princess Stephanie of Monaco and the singer James Brown.

Perhaps the least relaxed holidaymakers are the leaders of the Peoples' Republic of China. Far from getting away from it all for his holidays, China's leader takes the office and all his senior colleagues with him for his summer break. President Jiang Zemin and his entourage descend every year on the seaside resort of Beida He, about 150 miles east of Peking.

Beida He has a lively holiday atmosphere - at least where the masses play. The town is rather like Blackpool, with a strange form of apartheid imposed upon it. To the east, the public beaches are thronged with state work units on their official holidays; to the west, the often-deserted best beach is cordoned off for the senior leaders and no curious passers- by are allowed anywhere near.

Although he has two luxurious official residences and a posh Johannesburg home, when President Nelson Mandela takes his month-long summer holiday he heads for Qunu. Here he has had a replica of his old quarters at Victor Verster prison, a modest red-brick bungalow, built in the wilds of the Transkei..

His mother, who died during his 27-year incarceration, once lived across the road. And Mr Mandela has a simple explanation for his choice of destination: "Everybody comes back to where they were born." he says.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick