Pondicherry, The French Riviera of the East

Pondicherry or Puducherry as it is known as now, is a quaint Indian town with many French hues, situated on the Bay of Bengal, the eastern seaboard of India.

Easily accessible by road from major Indian cities like Chennai and Bangalore, Pondicherry should be a place to visit, if you want to experience some bygone French nostalgia and spirituality.

Streets with French names are very common in the French part of Pondicherry

Streets with French names are very common in the French part of Pondicherry

The small Pondicherry town is a mix of traditional Tamil and old French settlements. The town’s French connect can be traced back to the time when Pondicherry was the capital of old French India.

Most parts of the city are like any other crowded Indian city, but it is in the French part of town, which is most appealing and different. So, if one wants, one can dive in and experience the Indian chaos in the Tamil settlement areas, or be cocooned from it all in the French part of town.

Rue Rolland, part of French part of Pondicherry

Part of French part of Pondicherry

French Pondicherry, as the French part of town is locally known as, has neatly laid out intersecting roads, a wide and breezy beach promenade, exclusive boutiques, niche restaurants and many vintage French-style-cottages that are also available on rent.

Pathe Cine Familial @No:7 Romain Rolland is the latest addition to Pondicherry cultural pool.  Regular theatre shows are held here.

Pathe Cine Familial @No:7 Romain Rolland is the latest addition to Pondicherry cultural pool. Regular theatre shows are held here.

Regular theatre shows in English and in the local dialect Tamil, is the latest addition to the Pondicherry cultural pool.

The stage before the show began for the performance of Kunti and Karna. Check the row of oil lamps lighting up the performance area

The stage before the show began for the performance of Kunti and Karna. Check the row of oil lamps lighting up the performance area

I happened to watch a superb production called Karna and Kunti (a story from the Indian epic, Mahabharata).  The age-old story became special due to the innovative use of Kerala martial arts Kalaripayattu in the story.

Would you like to know about a show even before you head for the city? Then http://www.indianostrum.org is the site you would need to check for their updates.

Part of the central courtyard of Hotel De L' Orient, a Neemrana property. Unlike other hotels, Neemrana properties are all old places which have been converted into hotels.

Part of the central courtyard of Hotel De L’ Orient, a Neemrana property. Unlike other hotels, Neemrana properties are all old places which have been converted into hotels. Hotel is situated in French Pondicherry

Some of the best vintage hotels are situated in French Pondicherry; an ideal part of town to stay for sure, since one can be away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and most importantly can walk around most places of interest.

While there is no denying that the town with its beaches, riverside café’s and exclusive boutique shopping offers an eclectic experience, personally it was Auroville, which captivated me the most.

Matrimandir @Auroville

Matrimandir @Auroville

What is it that prompted me to go to Pondicherry? Apart from my wish to experience the French aura in my own country, it was the desire to meditate and connect with my higher consciousness at Auroville.

In the next few posts, I will share my experiences of the Pondicherry town which I had via its café’s, fine-dine restaurants, retail shops and of course Auroville.

Fun Trivia: Hollywood’s latest 2012 visual treat, Life of Pi, has been shot partly in Pondicherry! A reason for movie buffs to come and visit Pi’s land 🙂

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About nishi01

Savoring and writing…
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3 Responses to Pondicherry, The French Riviera of the East

  1. Romancing a new place with you every time…:) love it

  2. Seems like a nice little town! It looks like a tourist spot, but with the feel of a local spot…the right mix of both. I haven’t seen The Life of Pi yet! I keep hearing it’s SO good.

  3. The Empress says:

    I felt like I was walking along the French quarter, and gawking at the supreme dome of the Matrimandir at Auroville! Loved this Nishi, and am eager to lap up the rest, so off I go to read the next offering!

    p.s Puducherry my arse, it will always be Pondicherry!

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