A trip to Pondichéry – Part 2 – The Promenade and a French Breakfast!

In the Part 1 of my post, I have described about the French Quarters in Pondicherry with its brightly colored houses and quaint cafes that bring back a whiff of French flavor. You may wanna go and read that if you haven’t, because it really gives you a feel for the town and has some nice photographs too! 🙂

Anyway, today I’m gonna be talking about the one thing that can’t be missed when you’re in Pondi. And that’s the seaside Promenade.

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It’s nothing more than a thin strip of road and pavement abutting the coast, and it’s actually pretty short. You would be able to walk from one end to other in fifteen minutes tops. But it is this very strip of land that everyone, tourists and locals alike, flock to in the evening times to chill off in the cool sea breeze.

The beach in Pondicherry is not really a beach per se, as there is no sand that gently slopes into the water. Instead, what you get is a coast strewn with black rocks. I understand that they had to do this as the the sea is pretty deep near the coast and they need the rocks to break the waves. People are not advised to swim in the water here for the same reason. It’s quite a different experience, sitting on a rock, and watching and hearing the waves lash into more rocks below, the sprinkle from the clash sometimes rising up to six feet.

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In a stroke of brilliance, the local police authorities have banned traffic on the promenade from evening 6:30 PM to 7 AM the next day. So it is pretty cool to come here in the evenings and just soak up the air unadulterated by the noisy vehicles and the smoke. I was in the beach (and aimlessly traipsing through the French Quarters) till about 5:30 PM and then I heard that the Alliance Français at 58, Rue Rufren, screens French films for free every Sunday at 6 PM. So I’d gone (following directions is so easy there) and found myself in a little auditorium at a little after six. It was moderately filled, a lot of faces foreign. They played an animated movie  Les Triplettes de Belleville, and I was blown away by the grittiness and the surrealism of it. It was very complex for an animated movie and I was spellbound from the very start. Ninety minutes well spent. 

Here’s a gallery of some of the other shots of the Promenade.

So anyway, by 8 PM I was back in the Promenade. The traffic was cut off as expected and it was brimming with people everywhere. I couldn’t even find a proper place to sit down. But I spent a good one hour there and then went over to Pasta Bar Veneto for some…wait for it…Pasta! It was priced slightly higher but it was the best damned Pasta I’d ever eaten! They even heeded my request and made it more spicy than usual. That and a chilled beer and I was ready to turn in for the night.

Next morning, I was ready for some French food. There are a handful of cafes that server your basic French fare but I was told that if I wanted to try it all, then there was no place better to go than Baker Street on Rue De Bussy. It is a moderate joint that is famous for its French delicacies. They have a huge spread of sweet as well as savory items but my eyes instantly locked on to the croissants and the puff pastries. The Chocolatine, in particular, looked delicious! Just imagine a puff pastry with a chocolate sauce filling! I pointed it out to the lady over the counter and she asked “Would you like it warm, sir?” I squealed a little inside and replied “YES PLEASE!!” Imagine again, a warm puff pastry with warm chocolate sauce inside. Holy moly!

And this is what I finally settled down with, an Eclairs Vanille and a Chocolatine with a Sweet Lime juice on the side. 🙂 I could have this everyday!!

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Nom nom nom

After that delightful breakfast, I was up for some peaceful time so I visited the Romain Rollard Library that has a great collection of books, especially on the town’s history.

A couple of strolls after that, followed by lunch at The Indian Kafé Express, and it was time to start my return journey to Chennai again. I gave one wistful glance at the sea and the streets before I finally made my way to the bus stop. And then I come across this on the road –

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I couldn’t have agreed more.