"Pondicherry" Pondicherry by tayloretc
Pondicherry Travel Guide: 185 reviews and 421 photos
Pondicherry has a split personality. The guidebooks tell you it has old continental charm. It does, for about 4 by 10 blocks. The rest is all Tamil, and the city is better for it.
Don't get me wrong, I grew up in France, and I love it - the pace, the elegance, the food (lord, the food!). The French part of Pondy reminded me of Bordeaux - straight roads, lovely quiet and quaint family-centered courtyards, extraordinarily clean streets, profusions of flowers spilling over walls. The walls are the kicker - spilled over by flowers they're picturesque, but are exclusionary. And the exclusion shows by the lack of people on the streets in the French part of town.
The Tamil side is all external - bright, noisy, busy, dirty, and full. The roads are straight, but it doesn't feel like it.
In French-Pondy all the action takes places in courtyards behind walls, and you can only get in by invitation. In Tamil-Pondy the action is on the streets and you're invited, like it or not. The French side is French, with cycle-rickshaws. The Tamil side is Indian, with good bread and croissants.
Anyway, once you're here, the beach is the place to hang out, the French part is the place to eat, and the Tamil part is the place to shop.
(Note that these two photos were taken on a Sunday morning, and so are probably emptier than usual. Also, the French side does have a lot of pastel painted buildings - it's not all as stark as the photo indicates.)
The beach in the city is mostly rocks with some sand at the bottom and a well-traveled boardwalk at the top. For lots of sand and wider open spaces, better to go over to Aurobeach, a few km north of Pondy along East Coast Road. (See the Auroville travelog.)
- Pros:The city slogan "Give time a break" is true - a stay here is peaceful and refreshing.
- Cons:There's not a lot to do except give time a break.
Most of the arts and crafts available in India (and definitely near touristy areas) are based on old styles and designs.... more travel advice
The main dining hall is long and high-vaulted, and with the furniture really looks continental. There’s dining on the... more travel advice
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