WE ARE INTENDING TO SURPRISE OUR DAUGHTER AND WHISK HER OFF TO LONDON FOR HER 16TH BIRTHDAY IN SEPTEMBER. FOUR DAYS IN LONDON THEN THREE IN PARIS FOR HER BIRTHDAY. CAN YOU SUGGEST WHAT TO DO TO MAKE THIS CELEBRATION EXTRA SPECIAL?
R. RAMANATHAN, MAROUBRA
That's some surprise birthday. A West End theatre performance could well be on the agenda. You can't go too far wrong with a musical theme so either Let it Be, the ode to the Beatles, or Jersey Boys, steer clear of Thriller, the reviews are not good.
Shopping is most likely going to feature in this equation and among the hot contenders are Harrods but also the smart shops along Regent Street.
No doubt you'd all like to commit the occasion to imagery – not forgetting all her Facebook friends. What about a photo shoot in an iconic London location with a professional photographer? Susan Porter-Thomas http://www.sptphotography.com/ is just one possibility but Google and you'll find plenty more.
For sheer pomp and circumstance, afternoon tea in the Palm Court at The Ritz http://www.theritzlondon.com/ is hard to beat. Go with a big appetite, and dress up.
Spend some time sauntering around Covent Garden, it's a lively part of the city with plenty of street performers and lots of boutiques, a magnet for young hearts.
If a slap up dinner is called for you could go with a name-dropper restaurant such as Restaurant Gordon Ramsay www.gordonramsayrestaurants.com in Chelsea but you can't go far wrong with cosy and simple and Jamie's Covent Garden www.jamieoliver.com might be the go.
Leave some room for her to create her own special day. No doubt she'll have some ideas, and Time Out magazine will give her plenty of material.
In Paris, the Batobus boat ride along the Seine takes care of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Ile de la Cite, the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay. Rue Mouffetard is a fabulous place for wandering as is the Marais district – don't miss the Picasso Museum - and Canal Saint-Martin is the epicentre of cool, especially if you happen to be there on a Sunday, when you might even hire bikes and pedal along the pedestrian-only canal-side streets. I'd highly recommend a walking tour to get a handle on the city and there is no better guide than Virginia Dae http://parisinsight.com [parisinsight.com], who will customise a tour to your requirements.
For the 16th birthday dinner you could go with a three Michelin star restaurant such as Alain Ducasse or l'Arpege but they're intimidating. I suggest you book a table now for Jules Verne http://www.lejulesverne-paris.com, the restaurant on top of the Eiffel Tower, which will give your 16-year-old birthday memories to last a lifetime.