French War Memorial is a solemn reminder of the sacrifices of the valorous French soldiers in the World War I. Located in the vicinity of the picturesque Promenade or Puducherry Beach, the Memorial overlooks the gushing waves of the Bay of Bengal and is one of the several heritage monuments which fringes the French Quarter or White Town area. The magnificent monument is within a radius of 5 kms away from the Pondicherry airport, bus station and railway station and is a popular attraction among tourists visiting the 'French Riviera of the East'.
The foundation stone of the French War Memorial was laid down in 1937 and inaugurated in 1938 by Horace Valentin Crocchicia, a former Governor of French India. Built in the memory of the soldiers of French India, who laid down their lives during the World War I, the elegant monument, as designed by a French architect Delafon, comprises of four white pillars protecting a life-like statue of a soldier with a rifle, sculpted by Gaston Petit. A bronze plaque bearing the name of the martyred soldiers rests on the monument wall below a French inscription 'Aux combatants des Indes Francoise morts pour la Patrie, 1914-1918' meaning 'French fighters who died for their nation in 1914-1918'. Another bronze sculpture located in the rear of the monument marks the arrival of Joseph Francois Duplex, a former Governor General of Dutch India, to Pondicherry. The ornately carved monument seated in the middle of a well-manicured lawn not only bears the traces of the era gone by but also evidence of India's strong French connection.
The French War Memorial is situated in the heritage French Quarter of Pondicherry, commonly known as White Town and is at a stone's throw away from the Promenade Beach. The Beach Road, dotted with several cafes like the legendary Le Cafe, serving several varieties of French-style croissants, is an ideal place to exercise the taste buds as well.
The French War Memorial is open for tourists during timings 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM every day. However, the best time to visit the monument is at dawn or dusk in October-November, when the shades of the sun coupled with the comfortable weather of the city adds its own charm to the memorial. The monument is especially illuminated on 14th July on the occasion of Bastille Day in remembrance of the soldiers who laid down their lives for the victory and glory of their motherland.