Pondi was home to the French colonists, and it shows. French bakeries offering baguettes and coffee, an ocean boulevard, European buildings and (relatively) wide orderly streets. The botanical gardens are worth a look and there are plenty of backpacker cafés along the main drag. Is this even India? Well, yes. Dive into the crowded malls, see frothy girls’ clothing strung up for sale or stop at a sweet stand and you’ll be reminded that there’s no escaping India. But why would you want to? Pondicherry is enough of an oasis for those looking for a change of pace.
Tip: Pondi has lots of good shoemakers who work on the street. Get your feet measured, pick a design and come back in a couple of hours for your new pair of custom shoes.
Cons: Pondicherry is not the cheapest of India’s cities and its seaside location can make it windy and sometimes downright chilly (this may seem like a good thing if you’ve just come from the North!)