The success of "Life of Pi" has cast a spotlight on this little known Indian enclave with a heavy French presence
By Andrew Eames 27 February, 2013
India isn't known for being cool, calm and collected.
So wandering along the seaside promenade at Pondicherry, I'm enjoying the unexpectedly quiet dignity of the place.
The sea is lapping gently on my left, whilst on my right a set of aristocratic buildings line up along a road that has no traffic; amazingly, this seaside promenade is pedestrianized.
Though they left more than half a century ago, France's influence is still very much present in Pondicherry. A family walks past, looking every inch like local Tamils, but my ear picks out something unusual: they're speaking French to each other.
And here’s a beachfront café, with a menu that includes croissant au beurre and poisson du jour.
Toward the end of the road is more evidence: a big Alliance Francaise, and across the way a grand old building with Hotel de Ville emblazoned above its arches; these days it's sadly neglected, but it was once the nerve center of what was once an outpost of France.
A seaside town in Tamil Nadu, three hours’ drive south of Chennai, Pondicherry also served as the setting for the award-winning book and movie "Life of Pi."
A day after the film directed by Ang Lee nabbed four Academy Awards, the local government tourist office announced plans to develop all 18 sites used in the movie into tourist attractions, according to a report in the Financial Express.......read more