Bonjour Chennai! Talking Culture With French Consul General, Catherine Suard

Catherine Suard, the Consul General of France in Puducherry and Chennai, will soon complete the first year of her stint. Her main objective remains clear: to chalk out a long-term roadmap for improved business and cultural relations. 

In a freewheeling chat, Suard gave us her impressions of the cities and a glimpse of her vision. Excerpts from the interview:

How would you encourage more people to visit Puducherry, not just from France, but anywhere else in the world? You must be enjoying the food, especially at the cafés.

First of all, I’m not a tourist in Puducherry, so, I don’t have as much time to enjoy all the right places, but sure, there is very good food in Puducherry both Indian and also French. It’s a very enjoyable place for French gastronomy, and there are many interesting things to discover. What I’m witnessing day by day is an increase in the number of tourists in Puducherry, and that’s tremendous. Visitors say they enjoy the fresh air, and that is why I recommend Puducherry — apart from the heritage, cuisine and of course, the French flair about things... It’s amazing to me, when some of them arrive and say, “Oh! Look, it’s just like the French Riviera!” That shows how impressive this is for all tourists, even for foreigners. In some way, I like to think of Puducherry as an alternative gateway to India, and a unique place to begin exploring the country’s deep cultural roots.

Tell us about the Smart City proposal for Puducherry. 

The Smart City programme in Puducherry is really interesting, because the project engages the whole city. The proposal is to make the city’s heritage an asset for the future, and I’m convinced, this is the right path. We are really proud to accompany the government of Puducherry in this way, and we have a technical advisor counselling officials in that direction. The concept is to help the development of the city, and tourism, and also for local people to upgrade their quality of life. It’s a very doable, sustainable and inclusive project. Also, the size of Puducherry, and the way it is organised, is comparable to French cities, while our shared heritage means we can really add value to the programme.

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