Chandannagar holds a special place in West Bengal's history. Perhaps it's the only town which can be separated by an identity dominated by European influence. The Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, the English and even the Danish have all had their own settlements. But the French and the Portuguese have left the biggest marks in terms of a cultural footprint.
One major example of this is the Institut de Chandernagore located in the heart of the town on Grand Trunk Road. It's a museum and cultural centre originally created to preserve French cultural heritage. It preserves relics of the French colonial history of 250 years and symbolizes the shared heritage of both countries. In case you didn't know, The Archaeological Survey of India has declared the property of the Institute as a protected Monument of National Importance.
The museum occupies an area of 550 sq m and as you enter, you will see that there are displays kept in 10 rooms, with valuables and collectibles dating back to pre-Independence India. Browse through the gallery of the French East India Company and the European settlement in one room, get immersed in admiring 19th-century furniture and crockery, bronze bust of Dupleix, lithographs, 18th century maps of Chandernagore, archival documents, sample of 19th century industrial products and textiles, among other things.
There's a room in the north wing where you can spend hours looking at paintings, sculptures and coins (some paintings and sculptures date back to the 11th and 7th centuries).