When in Chennai, don’t miss out an opportunity to visit the coastal city of Puducherry – popularly known as Pondicherry. It’s a two and half drive from Chennai city and the route is as scenic as the destination itself. Pondicherry is broadly divided into two quarters: the Indian Quarters and the French Quarters. Naturally, the names are derived from the influences you’d get to witness in each quarter. The French Quarters are known for their broad avenues with French names (might prove to be a tongue-twister), brightly painted houses, and blossoming trees. For those who are gastronomically inclined, it’s your best bet of tasting almost-authentic French cuisine in India. Alternatively, you can test your skills at spoken French by attending a service in the local church. Sri Aurobindo Ashram never fails to draw crowds and the promenade is perfect for that soothing walk along the sea. The Indian Quarter is equally interesting, if not stunning. The heritage houses with their huge verandahs, broad pillars, and decorated grills offer a glimpse into a culture quickly vanishing with time. Local bookshops offer good deals on old books and street vendors have the most amazing array of clay works. I’m not sure if it can be truly called,”The French Riviera of the East” (La Côte d’Azur de l’Est), but if you’re looking for a weekend getaway, Pondicherry will not disappoint.