French geographer Paul Vidal de La Blache is largely considered the founding father of modern French geography. He originated the concept of genre de vie. Apart from working as a geography professor at Sorbonne, he penned iconic works such as Tableau de la géographie de la France.
Elisee Reclus was a renowned French geographer, writer, and anarchist best known for his 19-volume masterwork, La Nouvelle Géographie universelle, la terre et les hommes ("Universal Geography"). He received the Gold Medal of the Paris Geographical Society for this work in 1892. He opposed cruelty to animals and advocated nature conservation. He was also a proponent of naturism.
Roland Bonaparte was the grandson of Lucien Bonaparte, who was the brother of Emperor Napoleon I. A geographer and photographer, he was part of the research on the Sami community of Norway and the Australian Aborigines. He also headed the Société de Géographie and the Société Astronomique de France.
French naturalist, geographer, and mathematician Charles Marie de La Condamine is remembered for completing the first known scientific exploration of the Amazon region and also created the first map of the region. He was also part of an expedition that measured a latitude at the equator.
French explorer and mathematician Joseph Nicollet had begun his career as a math teacher at age 19. Faced with financial issues, he later moved to the U.S., where he was financially helped by a wealthy family. His exploration of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers helped him chart maps of the region.
French geographer Jean Gottmann is best remembered for introducing the concept of megalopolis. Starting his career as a research assistant at the Sorbonne, he later taught at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Paris, and Oxford. He was a specialist in urban, regional, and historical geography.
Conrad Malte-Brun was a Dano-French journalist and geographer. Malte-Brun is best remembered for coining the name Indo-China as well as the name Oceania, a geographic region that includes Melanesia, Micronesia, Australasia, and Polynesia, around 1812. Conrad Malte-Brun is also known as the father of Victor Adolphe Malte-Brun, who was also a famous geographer.
French cartographer and geographer Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville is remembered for developing the art of map-making. His first significant work was a map of China. He later drew maps of various regions, such as India, Italy, and Africa. He was also named the first geographer to the French king.
Irish-born French geographer Arnaud-Michel d'Abbadie is remembered for his expeditions in Algeria and Ethiopia with his brother, Antoine d'Abbadie d'Arrast. The path-breaking book Douze ans dans la Haute-Ethiopie was a written account of their experiences, which depicted the military and court life of Ethiopia, formerly known as Abyssinia.
French cartographer and geographer Philippe Buache significantly developed the field of physical geography. While he initially worked for his father-in-law, cartographer Guillaume Delisle, he later became the royal geographer. He also popularized the use of contour lines in relief maps and pioneered the division of the world into seas and river systems.
French geographer and explorer Henri Duveyrier is remembered for his expeditions in the Sahara. He studied the Tuareg people and even explored Morocco and Tunisia. His studies helped the French plan their African colonial expansion. His works include Exploration du Sahara and La Tunisie.
French historian and geographer André Duchesne is regarded by many as the father of French history. Known for his critical collections of national history sources, he later served as the historiographer and geographer to the French king. One of his best-known works is Historiae Normannorum Scriptores Antiqui.
French soldier, explorer, and geographer Casimir-Léon Maistre was part of the first significant European mission in Madagascar, the Catat mission, with French historian and Egyptologist Georges Foucart. He also investigated the ease of navigation in the Congo River basin. His exploration made him cross present-day Chad and Nigeria, too.