Pondicherry, India // Weekend Guide

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Think of Pondicherry as the little pearl and South India as the swirling hologram of a shell that houses it. Toted as “The French Riviera of the East” by some, this former French colony sits quietly along the Bay of Bengal.

Made up of small enclaves, the former “White Town” is a slice of French architecture, design and chic sensibility next to it’s Tamil brother Chennai, known always for the color, spice and beautiful chaos.  The charm lies deeply in the interconnection of the two.

From the city of Chennai, the drive is just about three hours and is a quiet break from the bustle of the city and is perfect for a long weekend. The French quarter is muted in grey and overflowing with blush bougainvillea trellis and fleur-de-lis. French bakeries, garden cafes and markets are plentiful as are courtyard homes and ladies riding side saddle in skirts, delicately balancing baskets of market finds on the backs of bicycles. Interspersed are markets of spice, evening beach boardwalk vendors, weekend bazaars and all the best color and flavor of South India.

 

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Stay (Eat & Sip) // Villa Shanti

A renovated 19th century courtyard home, turned contemporary boutique hotel, bar and restaurant. 15 rooms surround an open courtyard surrounding one of the best restaurants in town.

14 Rue Suffren

Pondicherry, India 605 001

T: +91 413 4200028

www.lavillashanti.com

 

Eat// Café des Arts 

Cool down with a fresh fruit juice or sip a cappuccino in the quiet courtyard or amidst the antique and contemporary art within. Shop the adjoining Nirvana shop for speedy little pull-back auto rickshaws, “Horn please” cell phone covers and other locally inspired gifts.

10 Rue Suffren

Pondicherry, India 605 001

T: +91 99944 81914

www.cafedesartspondicherry.com

 

Shop// Janaki

Fine linen and cotton fashions align the walls in this gallery-worthy space in the heart of “White Town.” Shop this sustainable boutique full of colorful accessories, scents and treasures and toys in a sweet children’s nook. The loft space upstairs houses hand thrown pottery, hand-carved furniture and home decor.

30 Romain Rolland Street

Pondicherry, India 605 001

T: +91 413 2227667

www.janaki.org.in

 

Via Pondicherry

Via Pondicherry is a collection, curated by a local classical dancer-turned designer in a virtual jewel box in old town. Once you’ve ducked under the canopy of bougainvillea that shades the entry, you’ll find treasures from jewelry, handbags and unique garments sparkling in antique armoires, atop modern tables and in every nook and cranny.

22 Rue Romain Rolland

Pondicherry, India

T: +91 981 0052869

www.viapondicherry.com

 

 

Do // Manakula Vinayagar Temple

Slip off your shoes and experience the colorful and peaceful aura of this Hindu temple, shop the colorful puja shops just outside and slip a few rupees in the trunk of the temple elephant, Lakshmi, to receive a blessing.

Manakula Vinayagar Street

Puducherry, India 605 001

 

Pondicherry Museum

With a history as rich as Pondy’s there is so much to learn and see. Besides a walking tour of the architecture, be sure to visit the Pondicherry Museum. The museum is full of artifacts, furniture and bronze and stone sculptures.

1 St. Louis St.

Pondicherry, India 605 001

0413 233 6236

 

Stroll the City Park

The best example of Pondicherry’s unique cultural heritage lies within the city park. Located in the center of the old colonial town. With a beautiful mix of architecture and stone statues the park is a place to relax, exercise, cool down and come together.

 

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