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If there were a golden mathematical principle for the ideal travel spot, I imagine it
would be something like this: the distance travelled should be inversely proportional
to how far away you feel, multiplied by the number of officially awesome places
where you can eat and drink. For relatively cheap.

To this writer at least, as much as I relish the knowledge of racking up miles spent in
transit, what matters most is the feeling of remoteness and utter unfamiliarity. And in
this way, if no other, Pondicherry packs in an unexpected treat. With an unusual
comfort in its colonial history and a strong pride in its rooted identity, traipsing
between two worlds by simply crossing the street comes easily to this seaside town.

Nowhere is this duality more delightful than in Pondicherry’s cafes and courtyards. If
architecture and gastronomy are the building blocks of a civilization, where you end
up eating in Pondicherry might tell you a glorious tale of two cities, all wrapped up in

So get away, and get further away, with these Pondicherry restaurants that truly are
the best of all worlds.

La Maison Rose

Type: French Bistro
Location: Romain Rolland Street

A fairy-light adorned courtyard defines this café, along with accidental sophistication.
The signage and menu are charmingly simplistic, reflecting the sincerity of its no-fuss
dishes and honest flavours. Besides a superb Grilled Beef Fillet, the deceptively
humble Chocolate & Coffee Parfait had us at bonjour.

La Maison Rose Pondicherry cafe

Café Des Arts

Type: Café with breakfast specialties, light eats and coffee
Location: 10 Suffren Street

It’s probably the cheeky wall art, sporadic smattering of books and tables full of
young crepe-hungry students that somehow make us feel vaguely hopeful, and
happy. Keep any cynicism away; the menu doesn’t promise greatness but if you care
about the company you keep for coffee, the croissant with homemade jams and butter aren’t too shabby at all.

Cafe des Arts Pondicherry cafe

Villa Shanti

Type: Traditional Indian and European food
Location: 14 Suffren Street

The name says it all. Expect Tamil temple art on the walls and a side of French fries
on your table. This villa seems fairly contemporary and does traditional Indian as well
as European dishes. The neatly arranged tables around the inner patio pack
in quite a crowd; inner peace is for the taking.


Carte Blanche

Type: Modern French & Creole
Location: Hotel De L’Orient, 17 Rue Romain Rolland

Short of trying to board the Orient Express, this restaurant at Hotel De L’Orient is
perhaps the quickest way to have a taste of that part of the world. The menu does
pay homage to traditional French cuisine but also isn’t afraid of experimenting with
some modern interpretations emphasizing local produce. The Creole section of the
menu goes back deep into Pondicherry’s heritage, at least as seen in the kitchen.

Carte Blanche Pondicherry restaurant courtyard

Le Dupleix

Type: Pan-Indian, European & Pondicherry Fusion
Location: 5, Rue de la Caserne

Le Dupleix is possibly the most swish of the lot, with traditional accents done
elegantly. The waterfall in the backyard makes for an idyllic background score, while
you pore over the menu which, rather interestingly, does not demarcate its offerings
into separate columns for French and ethnic Indian. A poetic reflection of the town’s
perspective, maybe?

Le Dupleix exterior view Pondicherry hotel