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Pondicherry’s bougainvilleas, crumbling cathedrals and leafy boulevards might occasionally make you wonder if you’re in the south of France instead of a former French colony. But it's also unmistakably Indian, with colorful festivals, the famous monument of Aayi Mandapam, and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Quiet beaches stretch north and south from town, good for swimming and sunrise strolls.