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Main sites of Pondicherry 

The 'French touch' in India 

main sites of pondicherry

Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry) was under French domination for more than 250 years (1674-1954). It is now an Indian Union Territory. It is often called 'Pondy' and it is landlocked in the state of Tamil Nadu, on the edge of the Bay of Bengal and 150 km south of Chennai. But its language and appearance betray its colonial past.

It is indeed its colonial history that gives Puducherry its charm and this little taste of France, unique in India. The oldest part is the old French quarter where the main sites of Pondicherry are located. It has managed to preserve its colonial heritage with its cobbled and shaded streets, lined with mustard-coloured villas draped in their bougainvillea hedges. On the 'Promenade Beach', facing the ocean, the statues of Joseph-François Dupleix (former Governor General of French India in the 18th century) and Joan of Arc still sit enthroned. The official language of the city is Tamil - yet the language of Molière is still very present among the inhabitants.

The city was conceived by the Dutch, coveted by the English and built by the French. But it is the French connection that remains the strongest and sometimes, always gently and naturally, comes up against Indian sensibilities. The traveller will therefore not be surprised by the ladies wearing jasmine threads in their hair and conversing in impeccable French. Or by a rickshaw driver greeting them with a resounding 'bonjour'. He will even be able to attend a lively pétanque competition in front of Our Lady of Angels church, built in 1707, where mass is celebrated in French every Sunday.

The most French of Indian cities

a soothing stopover in South India

Quartier français pondicherry
paradise beach pondicherry
promenade pondicherry
la plus française des villes indiennes

While strolling in its streets, it happens that one meets the French descendants of these colonists. Some even kept their French nationality when Puducherry became part of India in 1954. Some old monuments are still standing, such as Le Foyer du Soldat, a room reserved for those, Indians and French, who fought for France. We will also see the tricolor flag flown on certain cultural and administrative establishments such as the Consulate General of France, the French Institute, the French Alliance or even the French High School. The latter, built in 1826 by the Governor General at the time, remains the oldest and one of the most important French schools in Asia.

For the traveller, immersion in French 'territory' will be easy. Accommodation is offered in charming hotels. Built in the 18th century, they housed the Department of Public Instruction or the former home of Joseph-François Dupleix. The restaurants offer a wide variety of traditional French dishes and products: ratatouille with paneer (Indian fresh cheese), rasam with shrimps (spicy soup with coconut milk), golden croissant, crispy baguette, quiche, coq au vin, filet mignon or sole meunière.

Unlike its neighbors in Tamil Nadu, 'Pondy' is a haven of peace in which to stroll, be it on its tree-lined boulevards or along its unspoilt beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see. The essence of Puducherry is the wonderful coexistence of the contemporary and the colonial, of hedonism and the spiritual, of tranquility and chaos, of the present and the past.

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