France Forever

16th Aug 2014

Happy Feet

Photo of Happy Feet by Debarati Dasgupta

Breakfast at The Red Lotus

Photo of Breakfast at The Red Lotus by Debarati Dasgupta

Blurry and Breezy

Photo of Blurry and Breezy by Debarati Dasgupta

The Streets

Photo of The Streets by Debarati Dasgupta

The Retreat

Photo of The Retreat by Debarati Dasgupta

Towards The Light

Photo of Towards The Light by Debarati Dasgupta

Calm Of The Sea

Photo of Calm Of The Sea by Debarati Dasgupta

French Fromage

Photo of French Fromage by Debarati Dasgupta

Morning Is Here

Photo of Morning Is Here by Debarati Dasgupta

Conversations On The Roof

Photo of Conversations On The Roof by Debarati Dasgupta

Pastels And The Sun

Photo of Pastels And The Sun by Debarati Dasgupta

Knock Knock Knockin'

Photo of Knock Knock Knockin' by Debarati Dasgupta

Golden Globe

Photo of Golden Globe by Debarati Dasgupta


Photo of L'espace by Debarati Dasgupta

Pondicherry looks like one of the quaint villages of yesteryears. The town is an eclectic mix of its rich, colonial heritage, and the colorful and crowded Tamil Nadu.

This former stronghold for French India is divided into two quarters - the French quarter is called La Ville Blanche and the Indian section is La Ville Noire. There are village-styled houses and block apartments that are painted in bright yellow pastels, and then there are houses built according to Tamil sensibilities.

A stroll along the shaded lanes of these quarters will lead you to some beautiful French villas with long compounds and walls full of bougainvilleas. Some of these old mansions have been converted to courtyard cafes and boutiques. Many streets have also retained their French names.

The best way to explore Pondicherry is on a bicycle or a scooter. The heat and humidity can be punishing, but once the sun goes down, the breeze is like a balm to frayed nerves.

Pondicherry is one of the few places in India that respect the right of a pedestrian to walk. The Promenade prohibits entry of vehicles post six in the evening. This long stretch of road then takes on a carnivalesque charm.

On the evening of my departure, I sat in a cafe near the seaside with a mug of chilled beer. The Bay of Bengal roared, and the promenade came alive with its sounds and lights. Even as I rued the fact about having to get back to work next day, something in the breeze told me I would return very soon.

The Red Lotus is a boutique guest house situated in the center of Pondicherry's heritage town. It's not difficult to spot this old-merchant house in Vietnamese style, with its red doors and windows. Run by the most charming German couple, Daniela and Chris, this place transports you from the hustle of the city into tranquility. The rooms are tastefully done in a medley of colourful asian designs. The rooftop serves some delectable French breakfast with freshly-sourced products from nearby Auroville. Red Lotus provides you the luxury of a five-star without burning a hole in your pocket.
Photo of Red Lotus, Jawaharlal Nehru Street, M.G. Road Area, Puducherry, India by Debarati Dasgupta
Photo of The Promenade, Puducherry, India by Debarati Dasgupta
Pondicherry is now most famous as a site of spiritual pilgrimage. The ashram, founded in 1926, grew up around the yogi Sri Aurobindo and his French counterpart, Mirra Richard, known to her followers as the Mother. The Matrimandir is an edifice of spirituality and a symbol of The Mother's vision of uniting humanity. Auroville is truly a testament to the success 'Mother' achieved at establishing an alternative way of life.
Photo of Matrimandir, Auroville, Bommayapalayam, Tamil Nadu, India by Debarati Dasgupta
Of all the cafes I chose for my taste buds, L'espace was definitely the winner. Spend a relaxed evening at this hip rooftop bar with its good music, funky art, mismatched chairs, cocktails variety, and awesome food! The cheese crepe and their white sauce pasta are worth dying for.
Photo of L'espace, La Bourdonnais Street, White Town, Pondicherry, Puducherry, India by Debarati Dasgupta
Another place to indulge your sweet tooth. This place has the most amazing collection of white, brown and dark chocolates!