A Tour Of Pondicherry, India's French City
Bounded by the state of Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, commonly called ‘Pondy’ sits along the South Eastern coast of India. Colonized by the Dutch, the English and the French, the latter left the biggest impact here, by far. We guide you through the essential sights of this pretty little town.
Cobbled streets, boutiques, cafés, a promenade and seafront; you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve ended up in France during your visit to Pondy.
Pondicherry’s famous Promenade | ©Flickr/Raj
Unlike areas of Mumbai where the Victorian architecture merely reflects the city’s rich history, Pondy is a wonderful time travel experience to a completely different era.
Auro beach | ©Flickr/Praveen
If you hail from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore or Chennai, a trip to Pondy acts as a pause from the daily flow of modern life, allowing for some much-needed introspection. Visiting Pondicherry helps you slow down and experience things one at a time. The town is divided into two distinct parts; the French part of the quiet town is towards the sea. This is where you can find the bright mustard and white colors of the French Quarter, and bursting bougainvillea alongside clean European-style streets.
Even though the charming town has limited tourist attractions, it makes up for it with the unique atmosphere and experiences it has to offer. Part of the vibe can be credited to Auroville and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, which are not very far from the main town.
Most of the locals speak French and The Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges church still celebrates mass in French once a week. The Botanical Garden, Pondicherry Museum, French War Memorial, gelato factory, and cafés serving French crêpes are some of the places you can visit during your stay. The promenade is a vehicle free zone daily between 5:30pm and 11:00pm, and a stroll in the evenings on the promenade is an excellent way of experiencing the real essence of Pondy; cycle tours are another great way to experience the town.
Lifestyle blogger, Magali Vaz, visited Pondy to experience the charming town and for a fashion shoot. She says, “I enjoyed the beautiful lanes, the fresh food and the buildings and culture. I felt that the place was well organized and safe.” Joanna Lobo, a journalist with the Hindustan Times who hails from Goa and is a food lover mentioned that she went there primarily to explore the gastronomic options, while Bryna D’cunha Braganza, a PR professional who recently visited Pondy added, “The French influence is strong. The streets still have French names and some restaurants are owned by French nationals. The culture is an undiluted confluence of the Tamil and the French.”A bakery/Boulangerie in Pondicherry, with the sign written in four languages | ©Flickr/Soham Banerjee
Ruth Sequeira, who works as a brand manager at the brand’s headquarters in Pondy says she always loves heading to the French town and has her favorites there. She likes to take a trip to the Solar Kitchen, which can be visited only when accompanied by an Aurovillean. She also enjoys the Bay of Buddha and Le Dupleix for the food, and a French café by the name Chocolate and Bread for their vegan chocolate.
A cinema, signage in French, Pondicherry | ©Flickr/Arun Katiyar