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St. Petersburg Times (Russie)

Russian men turn to service of romance consultant.

One of the services offered to men wishing to sweep their beloved off their feet is a Cinderella-style horse and carriage.

Russian men are among those eagerly making use of the services of a French entrepreneur offering a helping hand in making unforgettable romantic gestures.

Proposing marriage from outer space or declaring your love with a shower of 1,000 red roses falling onto the deck of a yacht during a romantic cruise in Paris are just a couple of the ways that French company ApateoSurprise can help men to surprise their sweethearts on Valentine’s Day, and Russians are among the most active users of these services.

“Russians can really do amazing things when they are in love!” said Nicolas Garreau, the founder of ApoteoSurprise.

“They usually choose a private dinner cruise on the Seine, with 1,000 red roses suddenly falling from the sky when the yacht stops at the Pont des Arts, the most romantic bridge in Paris,” he said.

“Russians are also fond of a scenario that includes hundreds of candles spelling out a special message of love in the air as they arrive at a magical French abbey by chauffer-driven car. Another popular scenario is a candlelit dinner at a castle with a private fireworks display that includes a giant red heart suddenly blazing forth,” he said.

Unsurprisingly, such bold demonstrations of emotion come at a price. A dove delivering a declaration of love to a hotel costs 390 euros ($521), while for about 16,000 euros ($21,395), lovelorn romantics can splash out on a giant white heart written in the sky above Paris by small aircraft.

Although less inventive — or less prosperous — men may consider their more traditional proposals unforgettable, 80 percent of women say that they are disappointed with the way their lovers choose to propose, according to information from ApateoSurprise, whose mission is to ensure that their methods will be anything but disappointing.

“Since 2006, when I launched my agency, I’ve planned about 1,000 romantic surprises and marriage proposals, and I would say that the most popular package among clients is a one-hour limousine tour with champagne and chocolate,” said Garreau.

“The limo stops at the Eiffel Tower, the tower sparkles, and all of a sudden, a personalized message appears on a giant ultra-bright LED screen. Women cry almost every time. And of course the message can be displayed in Russian,” he added.

Women rarely know beforehand that their other half has called on the services of a Parisian expert in romance. But Garreau does not usually interfere in the process, or even help the client in choosing a fitting scenario. He believes that the client knows which form of expression suits their particular situation best.

Garreau’s most extravagant proposal yet will be made on Valentine’s Day this week. For 4,990 euros ($6,675), men can propose to their girlfriends from space, at an altitude of 30 kilometers. A picture of the couple and a proposal text will be sent into space, where video equipment will capture the whole event, after which the woman will be given the film.

“I’ve always been romantic in my private life and I have always tried to do amazing things to surprise the women I was in love with, but I always had to do everything by myself, as no specific service existed to help create a romantic surprise,” said Garreau. “The job of marriage proposal planner didn’t exist — either in France or anywhere else — despite the fact that 3 million couples come to Paris annually for a romantic getaway. Most men propose during these holidays in what is considered to be the world capital of love,” he added.

“My goal was to allow men traveling to Paris to offer their loved ones the most romantic and memorable surprise. I wanted to make possible those romantic fairy tales that seemed impossible in real life,” he said.

Among international clients, Russians are the most represented nationality, said Garreau. The company’s ultra-romantic proposals became popular among Russians as soon as the company was launched.

“Russians … really like beautiful, spectacular and sometimes extravagant romantic surprises, but prefer to keep them intimate,” said Garreau. “They want to live a wonderful, magical, private moment — a personal dream that nobody else on earth can share with them. They also want the event to have a big element of French romance.”

Olga Kalashnikova

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