Le Café at the beach offers a unique Pondicherry experience. Coffee and Culture have being always played and important role in our society. The Pondicherry Tourism Development Council ( PTDC) in collaboration with Coffee Ideas! and INTACH, have been working with the renovation and re-organization of le Café and opened it doors on the 28th of November 2008.
LE CAFE new spirit aims at preserving the Heritage of the building, selling tourist tours, offering information about Tourism and Cultural activities and serving a wide range of international and local beverages and food, being the coffee the core product.
During the French period, this building was Pondicherry's harbour office. It was the first site the Europeans saw as they approached Pondicherry by sea. The harbour captain and his staff worked here. It was also the oldest post office of the city.
For the French, the small structure on the sea front on Goubert Salai may remain an anecdote, but surely not for many fishermen living in Kuruchikuppam. Their ancestors, the "Macouas" (a French deformation of Makuvan), had waited at this site the whole day for some work in one of the hundred "chelingues" of the port of Pondicherry.
It is often quoted as being built in the "beginning" of the 19th Century, because most people think that it was founded around 1827, when Governor Desbassyns de Richemont opened the "Cours Chabrol", known today as "Goubert Salai". But it is now clear that the harbour office is older than that because the French archives in Aix en Provence (CAOM) have another story to tell. When the Cours Chabrol was opened, the same "bureau du port" existed already, "needing a few repairs". And, in 1817, when the French came back to power after the British occupation of Pondicherry, they found a building, which they had to repaint and whose proportions were quite similar to those of today. So the "bureau du port" was never destroyed or rebuilt by the French during the 19th Century.
We know quite well how the site existed in the 18th Century since we find its description in M. Jean Deloche's "Old Pondicherry revisited": There were two buildings known as custom house and harbour office, separated by the "Porte Marine" in 1765. But they were quite different from our "Le Café". In 1793, the British conquered the city once more after a violent bombing. We may assume that the two buildings near the "Porte Marine" were destroyed at that moment, because they were very close to the fortification's walls. As the British needed a harbour office, they had to build a new one. So the "Le Café" is most probably the only witness of the British period of Pondicherry and dates either from the last decade of the 18th Century or the first one of the 19th Century.
We don't know much about the early years of the “Le Café”; but from its plans, we can make out that the two rooms inside were built first. Later, in 1817, the French added two rows of arcades outside: one in the North and one in the East.
When Governor Desbassyn de Richmont visited the site in 1827, he found it in such a bad shape that he decided to rebuild the eastern row of arcades and to create a new one in the South, so as to harmonise the building with the newly opened "Cours Chabrol." It remained unchanged from 1827 to the late 1940s. At that time, the government decided to give the harbour office a modern look: some doors and windows were shuttered, the huge word "Pondichéry" was painted on the eastern wall, "Port" on the western wall. The building began to change only when the port was shifted from "Cours Chabrol" in the late 1960s.
For Pondicherry, this building is a bridge between the past and the present: Now it has been given a new lease of life by the Government by restoring it. If all the uncared heritage buildings can be similarly restored our city will become truly beautiful...
Adapted from an article by RAPHAEL MALANGIN, INTACH
South Indian Organic coffees
Espresso: the essence of coffee made with organic Indian coffee.
Espresso Americano: coffee mug with steaming mild coffee.
Café au lait: French favorite coffee drink. (Mild milk coffee served in a coffee mug)
Cappuccino: Italian famous coffee drink. (Very creamy milk coffee with cocoa powder)
Caffe Latte: large coffee mug with strong coffee and creamy milk
Café Cortado: small coffee with steamed milk, Spanish favorite coffee recipe
Moccaccino: espresso, chocolate syrup, frothed milk and cocoa powder:
Latte Macchiatto: a 3 colored milk coffee served in a glass.
Caffe Affogato: espresso coffee with vanilla ice cream:
Cold Coffee: chilled espresso coffee and milk shake served with chocolate syrup and cocoa powder
Caffè Frappé : a coffee shake with out milk.
Organic Teas, Ayurvedic Herbals and Tissanes
Breakfast tea: organic Ceylon black tea with a complete body and invigorating fragrance, served with a cloud of milk or slice of lemon.
Earl Grey Tea: organic Ceylon tea aromatized with Bergamot. A classic tea either in the morning or afternoon.
Masala Chai: organic Black tea brewed with aromatic hot masala milk.
Black tea: organic Nilgiris tea. Served with a cloud of milk or a slice of lemon.
Green Tea: organic Nilgiris green tea with a delicate aroma and taste.
Tisanes (caffeine free) : a choice of cinnamon, mint, ginger, lemon, chamomile or saffron.
Ayurvedic Herbals : different blend of herbs and spices following Ayurvedic principles Vatha ( invigorating ), Pitha ( energizing) and Kapha ( relaxing) . Preferably served without milk.
Lemon Iced tea: organic Nilgiris Tea with pure lime juice, very refreshing.
Kambucha Iced tea: Organic Nilgiris Tea prepared in a ancient Chinese method.
Fresh juices: ( pineapple, sweet lime, grape, orange)
Lassi: ( plain, sweet, banana, fruits):
Hibiscus soda: soda with hibiscus syrup
Power juice: cold water with hibiscus flower syrup with lime juice
Radha juice: water with Radha’s flower syrup with lime juice
Hot Chocolate: homemade chocolate preparation, steaming and invigorating.
Cold Chocolate: : homemade chocolate preparation, kids favoutite.
Milk shakes : of your choice (Vanilla, Banana, Chocolate, Coffee).
Snacks & Pastries
Samosa: 4 cocktail crispy samosa served.
Vadai: 2 vadai served with tomato and mint chutney.
Pain au Chocolat:
Pain au Pomme:
Madelaine: flavoured with cinnamon and lemon zest
Apple tartlet: apple compote with nuts served in individual tartlets.
Cheese Cake: creamy and soft falvoured with lenon and orange zest.
Dark Chocolate Brownie: moist and light.
Eggless Jaggery cake: a vegan tasty cake
Egg less Citrus surprise: a vegan light cake
Chocolate truffles: 4 chocolate truffles:
Kulfi of the day: ask for today’s flavor.
Vanilla Sky: vanilla ice cream with leeches in syrup
Coffee Iceberg: coffee ice cream topped with crunchy nuts and chocolate sauce
Strawberry Fields: strawberry ice cream with fresh strawberries from Ooty.
Dead by Brownie: warm brownie with vanilla ice cream, chocolate chips and nuts.
Irish chilled coffee: espresso coffee flavored with Whisky and topped with ice cream:
Copa Macedonia: exotic fruit salad with black current ice cream and strawberry sauce
Mousse of the Day: ask for today’s flavor.
(from 6 am to 12 pm)
South Indian (veg): 4 mini idlis, 2 mini vadia, sambar and 2 chutneys :
Continental (veg): fresh orange juice, fruit salad, toast, baked beans, butter and jam
Omelet & Toast: choose your favorite filling (mushroom, bacon, cheese, masala, fresh herbs, plain)
* Included regular coffee or tea
Curd & Fruits: homemade curd, muesli, and selection of fresh fruits (papaya, grapes, apple)
(From 12am onwards)
Lasagna of the day: ask for today’s choice.
Gratin of the day: ask for today’s choice.
Grilled chicken supreme with mustard sauce, French fries and salad
Marinated fish grilled with lemon butter sauce, French fries and salad
Grilled prawns with garlic and parley, French fries and salad
French Quiche, salad and French fries: 80
Pizza slice, salad and French fries
Vegan Soup of the day with garlic bread
Tossed Salad: seasonal vegetables tossed in vinaigrette sauce, served with garlic bread.
Caprese Salad: tomato, mozzarella, oregano and olive oil dressing served with bread sticks.
Egg Salad: seasonal vegetables with boiled egg tossed in vinaigrette sauce, served with bread sticks.
Tuna salad: lettuce, tomato, sweet corn, boiled egg and tuna fish with mayonnaise.
Chicken Salad: grilled chicken breast tossed with crispy vegetables with mayonnaise.
Three-tier Club Sandwich: made with brown bread loaf served with French fries and salad
Vegan: tomato, cucumber, spring onion, carrot, lettuce, sprouts and pesto spread:
Vegetarian: Cheddar cheese with tomato, cucumber, spring onion, carrot, lettuce:
Mushroom: mushroom cooked Spanish style with or without cheese:
Tuna: tuna fish with mayonnaise, cheese, tomato, cucumber, spring onion, carrot, lettuce:
Chicken: grilled chicken supreme with mayonnaise, cucumber, spring onion, carrot, lettuce
Grilled French Baguette served with French fries and salad
Butter & Cheese: melted cheddar cheese and butter (veg)
Tomato & basil: tomatoes, basil spread and black olives (vegan)
Zucchini & Mushroom: sauté mushrooms, grilled zucchini in olive oil.(vegan)