Cultivating Culture at Pondicherry

19th Aug 2014
Photo of Cultivating Culture at Pondicherry 1/4 by Gayatri Manu
Baker Street
Photo of Cultivating Culture at Pondicherry 2/4 by Gayatri Manu
Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges
Photo of Cultivating Culture at Pondicherry 3/4 by Gayatri Manu
Romain Rolland Library
Photo of Cultivating Culture at Pondicherry 4/4 by Gayatri Manu
French Quarter
You will try and not skip on its clean brick cobbled pavements. You will fail. The French Quarter’s mustard and white mansions that hide behind bursts of pink bougainvillea vines will elude you. You will look through its glass windows expecting an 1860s scene out of Paris. You will see a couple of weights and lifting machines instead and reel with the shock of realising that this French mansion has now been converted to a gym. You will also grumble as you pass by the white, immaculate colonial mansion that is Raj Niwas (Residence of the Governor of Pondicherry) and not be able to enter it. I would suggest you take a walk through the ‘white town’ in the early mornings or late nights while the crowds are thinner. INTACH also organises Heritage Walks in the French Quarter. So get in touch with them or just rent a bicycle and hum to yourself as you zip past crumbling mansions.
Photo of White Town, Puducherry, India by Gayatri Manu
Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges or Church of Our Lady of Angels is located along Rue Dumas. The church stands in it’s unassuming pink. You’ll groan, as you are lead along by your religious grandmother, “Not another church.” But you will also be pleasantly surprised by the intricacy of the paintings displayed inside. It’s tangerine pillars and soft blue interiors will remind you that you are in a church modelled after a church in France but with it’s own South Indian touches.
Photo of Eglise de notre Dame des Anges, Puducherry, India by Gayatri Manu
Your inner Francophile and Bibliophile will rub it’s palms in glee and swish through the doors of the largest French Library in the Union Territory. Named after a leading French scholar and close companion of Gandhi this library boasts of a collection of 315,000 + books. The Air Conditioned rooms also provide some respite from the sweltering heat of this coastal town. A lot books here refer to the French connections of Pondicherry and the evolution of the French Quarter in the town.
When you enter this upmarket, French bakery the staff greets you in impeccable French, you stutter a broken Bonjour and nod to them proudly. Baker Street on Bussy Street will truly feed the Francophile in you. The crisp coffees, éclairs, croissants, macaroons, meringues, mousses and pain au chocolat seem to be the envy of every diabetic patient who enters this French Bakery. Entry is by reservations and for dinner alone.