We’ve visited several former French colonies now (Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos, Madagascar, Quebec) and if they have one thing in common, it’s a large number of French tourists. I suppose this may be true with Spanish tourists as well (though they blend in pretty well in Latin America), but the French really seem to like to visit the places that they used to own. In Quebec and to a lesser extent in Madagascar this can be chalked up to language (speaking French can get you by in those places and so they make linguistically easier destinations for those French who do not speak English well), but of course in many places (Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos and Pondicherry included) English has surpassed French in use.
Former French colonies generally also have beautiful civic and residential colonial architecture (or at least architecture that decays beautifully–as in Kampot and Kep in Cambodia and Luang Prabang in Laos), and a good gastronomic culture (Madagascar very much so, Pondy not so much).
Anyway, in this post pictures of some French institutions in Pondicherry. I’m not sure how many French citizens currently live in Pondicherry, but as you can see there is a full complement. These were taken on a little ride through town we took on a cycle rickshaw.
A few historical notes: The French arrived in and established themselves in Pondicherry in the late seventeenth century, not long after the British East India Company arrived in now Madras. In the 1740s, the French briefly conquered the British holdings up the coast, and I suppose had they been successful in retaining them India could have ended up being a French empire. Alas, the British were able to retake now Madras and eventually control almost all of South India, although Pondicherry remained French. Pondicherry peacefully joined India in the 1950s soon after independence–please see my earlier blog for a brief history of the formation of India.