Two hundred years of French influence has had a tremendous impact on Pondicherry. This quaint, charming town of French Colony Pondicherry is renowned for its delectable food and mesmerizing beaches. The spectacular French architecture gives you the feeling as if you have landed in Bordeaux or Montpellier. The White Town area of this town is referred to as the French Quarter. Most of the structures are colonial buildings and were built during the French rule in the Indian subcontinent.
Now referred to as Puducherry or just as Pondy, this little town is one of the union territories of the Indian subcontinent. It is popular as the French Riviera of the East. This fascinating town still has its old-world charm intact and gives you a close feel of French Culture. The French Quarter has been laid out in a grid pattern with parallel streets cutting across at right angles to each other.
The White Town area is located to the seaside promenade facing the Bay of Bengal. The region of French Colony Pondicherry is home to elegant colonial mansions amidst charming cafes and numerous parks. The houses are adorned with shuttered windows in colourful facades. The older residents still speak French. Several buildings have been converted into Government offices. Tall and elegant French doors adorn the interior and exterior of many buildings.
If you want to make the best out of your Pondicherry visit, then you must indulge in leisurely walks. Here are some amazing places that you need to explore to get a glimpse of France in India.
One-day Itinerary to Explore French Colony Pondicherry
Seek spiritual awakening at Auroville and Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Pondicherry is a mecca for those who are looking for spiritual enlightenment. Auroville is one of the most popular attractions in this town. It is an experimental township that was created with an idea to build a place where people from all over the world following different traditions and cultures living together peacefully. Matrimandir is the focus of this township which means “temple of the mother”. The architecture of this temple is quite mesmerizing. The ashram is spiritual community located in the heart of the French Quarter. The attractive display of exotic and unique flowers is worth noting. Visit this place to experience sheer bliss.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart of the Jesus
This church is situated in the south boulevard and is a specimen of Gothic architecture in French Colony Pondicherry. It consists of rare stained glass panels that depict events from the life of Jesus Christ and the saints. It has become a famous pilgrimage for Christians. This historical church is about 100 years old and consists of 24 main columns for holding the structure. Twenty parish priests lead the church. Statues of four evangelists were also erected in this church later on.
The White Town
This area was reserved for Whites when French rule dominated in this region of the Indian subcontinent. While exploring this region, you will spot arched gates adorned with bougainvillea, white and yellow walls and clean European-style streets. This picturesque locale transports you back in time. The stunning architecture makes this place quite a visual delight.
The Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden is located to the south of the New Bus Stand. An aquarium and a botanical garden were established in this town of French Colony Pondicherry in 1826. It is spread over 22 acres and is a famous retreat for the tourists and the locals. Perrotet was responsible for designing this botanical garden and hence his memorial can be found on the premises. He introduced several exotic plants from all over the world in this harden. There are about twenty-eight plots in this garden and each one has a separate theme.
Delight your taste buds with local delicacies
Pondicherry is purely a haven for foodies. It is famous for offering a range of cuisines. You must visit Café des Arts for trying authentic French cuisine. For the best non-veg French restaurant, don’t miss Carte Blanche. You can also try wood-fired pizza served at Tanto Pizzeria. If you are craving for desserts, then head to Goubert Avenue and try some authentic Italian gelato. The Indian Café Express presents some scrumptious breakfast options. Café Xtasi serves a massive portion of wood fire pizza. If you are craving for some continental delights, then head to Villa Shanti. If you want a taste of French Bakery treats, then do head to Baker Street.
The Rock (Promenade) Beach
This less polluted and crowded beach is where you need to head for a serene evening walk. This region is ‘No Vehicle Zone’ after 6 pm. The well-known promenade is located on the rocky beach promising a gorgeous seafront. This is one of the dynamic areas in Pondicherry. It is accessible quite easily. The Promenade stretches over 1.2km long. A stroll along the promenade takes you across the War Memorial and the Dupleix Park on Goubert Avenue. Right in the middle is a splendid statue of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Built in black stone, this statue is about four-meter high. Numerous cultural activities are organized in the space in the front throughout the year.
Indulge in Street Shopping
The French Colony Pondicherry is a fantastic location to do some street shopping. There are plenty of great shops that offer great deals and quality products. The shops that dot the Vinayagar Temple require you to use some serious bargaining skills. Shop for essential oils, incense sticks, and candles at affordable rates! Invest in some trinkets too.
Tips for Travellers visiting French Colony Pondicherry
- Rent a bike an auto-rickshaw drivers quote exorbitant prices
- Try to find accommodation near the White Town as a lot of prime places in the town would be in the vicinity
- Carry cash as some cafes do not accept Credit or Debit Card