Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe
Salon De The FRANCOIS: A Charming Classical Cafe In Kyoto
Salon de the FRANCOIS is a tea shop in Kyoto that has been loved by locals for over eighty years.
Written by Anna Namikawa
There's a tearoom in Kyoto that has been loved by the locals for its classical appeal for more than 80 years.
Salon de the FRANCOIS is located along the Takase River behind a large intersection in Shijo Kawaramachi, an area full of tall modern buildings. The name of the shop comes from the artist Jean-François Millet.
This western-style streetlamp marks the entrance.
Salon de the FRANCOIS was established in 1934 by Mr. Shoichi Tateno, the father of the current manager. It has treasured and maintained its France-inspired appearance it had since its opening.
Created from a Yearning for Freedom
When the shop was first established, freedom of speech was restricted more so than in the present day, and luxury was not approved of.
The founder, Mr. Tateno, admired the liberty in the nation building of France, and wanted to create a place where people could speak freely about their ideas and the arts. For this reason, he opened Salon de the FRANCOIS.
The interior, which is reminiscent of a luxury liner, also comes from the idea of the "freedom" of a ship crossing the boundless ocean.
Valuable Interior Decorations
The lighting and paintings are all the same as the ones that were there upon the shop's establishment. In 2002, the facility, interior, and building were given recognition, and Salon de the FRANCOIS became the first tea shop to be designated as a Registered Tangible Cultural Heritage.
This light is modeled after a seashell.
They say this light was actually used in a luxury ship.
You will also find other decorations like a map of Paris and a drawing of the Mona Lisa issued by an Italian family of prestigious nobility, the House of Medici. Mr. Tateno went all the way to Tokyo to purchase these items.
A Relaxing Atmosphere
Of the countless seats in the shop, we recommend the terrace seats. While listening to relaxing classical music and admiring the courtyard, you will forget about the time.
When sitting at the terrace seats, you should have a look at the scenery beyond the window. On the other side of the tiny lake is a wall with unique designs.
This wall is actually made from handmade tiles. It's also designed after the ocean.
The seats in the back of the shop, including the terrace, are open as non-smoking seats after 1 PM.
This rare cheesecake set (1100 yen) is one of Salon de the FRANCOIS' specialty dishes.
Their hot coffee is a mix of Arabica beans. The Wiener Kaffee (just the coffee: 580 yen), with fresh cream, is a product that has been loved since the establishment of the shop.
The rare cheesecake (just the cake: 550 yen) uses rich cream by Daisen Gyunyu Milk and mellow cheese from Denmark. A faint lemon scent and the blueberry sauce add a special touch. The cake melts the moment it enters your mouth. They say that there are many customers who visit from afar just to get a taste of this rare cheesecake.
Mr. Tateno, the current president of Salon de the FRANCOIS, travels around Japan to buy items with the wish to deliver delicious products to customers.
There are various other menus, such as the kyoho grape juice from Nagano. We recommend you stop by to have a taste!
Mr. Tateno's Message
Mr. Tateno says he wants to treasure what his parents created 80 years ago.
This tea shop was established in the midst of various historical events, and Mr. Tateno wants to continue to pass down the atmosphere of the time. He doesn't want to press this idea toward customers, he wants to protect the shop while it is loved by visitors.
How about taking a break at Salon de the FRANCOIS, a shop that has overcome turbulent times?
It's a tea shop that will make you want to set out on your next journey.
Salon de the FRANCOIS
Address: Kyoto, Shimogyo, Nishikiyamachi-dori, Shijo-kudaru, Sendocho 184
Closed: December 31 and January 1, Summer Holidays (2 days)
Credit Cards: No
Menus in Other Languages: -
Nearest Station: Hankyu Kawaramachi Station
Access: Exit 1 Kiyamachi Minami Exit
Price Range: 580 yen -
Phone Number: +81-75-351-4042
Official Website: Salon de the FRANCOIS