The delicate flowers popping up abundantly around the pretty exterior of Les Grandes Arbes, tucked in the backstreets of Hiroo, give the impression that this café is actually a beautiful floral boutique.
However, visitors soon realize that this is no ordinary flower shop—a fact made clear by the selfies on display. There aren’t just one or two photos here, but rather an onslaught of self-portraits of multiple people, shot from various angles, all with Arbes as the backdrop. It’s as though the photo-takers found themselves outside the Empire State Building or the Taj Mahal, and wanted to immortalize the experience. The images halt passersby as they take in this phenomenon and become swept away by the mania—ultimately photographing themselves.
Looking up reveals a wooden brown treehouse attached to the establishment. Finally, a chance to play out childhood fantasies of owning your own wooden fortress!
Walking through the flower shop and up a steep staircase onto floors three and four leads to… voilà: the rooftop! This outdoor space is reserved for whomever gets in first, and provides a relaxing and secluded sanctuary, decked out with wooden chairs and tables, metallic grey lanterns, and an olive tree in the corner.
However, on days when the wind is harsh, the cozy indoor area might be more appealing. The vibe is pretty and girly, with light Hawaiian music playing in the background. The staff are cheerful and attentive, adding to an ambience that’s warm and happy, in a quirky, feminine, child-like environment. Most of the lunching ladies take snapshots of their meals and ask staff to help document their visit by taking multiple group photos. Of course, the staff oblige.
True to the nature of this boutique, there are flowers on display all around—there’s even a tree growing out of the communal table in the center of the café. It’s a chic and “green” alternative to high tea, capturing the vibe, just with different offerings.
Light, healthy, and casual, the lunch is a mix of foccacia sandwiches, soups, curries, and salads. Prices for the mains start from ¥1,100 and average around the ¥1,230 mark, and the sets include two small side dishes, soup, and either rice or baguette. The choices of mains are the focaccia (¥1,230), chicken and tomato curry (¥1,230), and hummus (¥1,100). The seemingly most popular sweets are the apple and lemon tart (¥620) and the green tea fondant (¥620).
Missed out on having your own cubby or treehouse as a kid? This is your chance to reclaim your childhood and make some new memories—and also an opportunity to escape Tokyo for an hour or two, and enjoy some organic food on an endless wooden terrace in the luscious springtime season.
Fleur Universelle, 5-15-11 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5791-1212. Mon-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-7pm. Nearest station: Hiroo. http://fleur-universelle.com