Araikamedu in Puducherry (earlier Pondicherry) was a favorite port of the Romans .
An excavation at Araikamedu (near present day Puducherry) revealed a Romans trading settlement of this period, and elsewhere too the Roman pottery, beads, intaglios, lamps, glass, and coins point to a continuous occupation resulting even in imitations of some Roman items.
The first viable French company, the French East India Company, was launched by the Minister of Finance Jean Baptiste Colbert, with the support of Louis XIV, in 1664. After some false starts, the French company acquired Pondicherry (now Puducherry), 85 miles (137 km) south of Madras , from a local ruler in 1674...At first the French initiative suffered from the mixing of grandiose political and colonial schemes with those of trade, but under the care of Francoise Martin from 1674, the company turned increasingly to trade and began to prosper.
The British were saved by the military genius of Clive , an aggressive British Empire-builder who became the chief representative of the East India Company, which had been founded in 1600. Eventually the French were restricted to the fort at Pondicherry (modern Puducherry) and handful of small territories in the south eastern coast.
Puducherry contains the Hindu ashram (religious retreat) of the philosopher Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) as well as w:AurovilleAuroville, the international township and study centre that was named for him. The Roan Rolland Public Library houses some rare French volumes. A medical college, a law college, an engineering college, and several other colleges for general education are affiliated with the University of Madras.