The union territory of Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry; generally known as ‘Pondy’) was under French rule until 1954. Some people here still speak French (and English with French accents). Hotels, restaurants, and ‘lifestyle’ shops sell a seductive vision of the French-subcontinental aesthetic, enhanced by Gallic creative types and Indian artists and designers. The internationally famous Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its offshoot just north of town, Auroville, draw large numbers of spiritually minded visitors. Thus Pondy’s vibe: less faded colonial-era villa, more bohemian-chic, New Age–meets–Old World hang-out on the international travel trail.
Though very small, Pondicherry was the largest French colony in India. The city has a long and interesting history of trade and war. There is a strong French
Enjoy fabulous shopping, French food (hello steak!), beer (au revoir Tamil Nadu alcohol taxes), and plenty of yoga and meditation.