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FONTANIER, Victor. Voyages en Orient, entrepris par Ordre du Gouvernement Français, de l'année 1821 à l'année 1829, ornés de Figures et d'une Carte, Paris, P. Mongie Aîné, 1829.

Victor Fontanier (Saint-Flour, Auvergne, c. 1796 – Civitavecchia, 1857) started his career as a pharmacist. He entered the École Normale Supérieure of Paris during the Bourbon restoration, but was soon forced to leave the school because of his liberal views. In 1819 Fontanier entered the Naturalists' School of Paris (École des Naturalistes Voyageurs) and in the years 1822-1829 he travelled to the East on a mission of the French government. The aim of this expedition was to explore the region of the Black Sea and the Asiatic provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Fontanier thus held the position of naturalist attaché to the French embassy in Constantinople, under ambassador Florimond Fay La Tour Maubourg.

Starting out from Constantinople, Fontanier visited Odessa and the Russian provinces of the Caucasus. From Baku he toured the coast of the Caspian Sea and reached Persia by way of Yerevan, Nakhchivan and Tabriz. Subsequently he reached Baghdad via Hamadan (ancient Ecbatana) and sailed down the Tigris to Basra. From southern Persia the author travelled to Georgia, where he toured the provinces of Guria and Megrelia (Samegrelo). He returned to Constantinople by crossing Lazica on the coast of the Black Sea. From Constaninople he reached Smyrna by way of Bursa, Apollonia on the Rhyndacus and Miletopolis (Michalitsi, today Karakabey).

Before returning to France, Fontanier also visited the Aegean islands in the midst of the Greek War of Independence. During his tour of the main cities of Asiatic Turkey, Fontanier amassed a large corpus of geographical and geological data, as well as valuable information on the culture of the places he visited. In the years 1830-1833 he travelled again to the East as consul of France at Trebizond. He held the position of consul at several other places such as Basra and Singapore. He died in Civitavecchia, Italy, serving as consul. Fontanier was a corresponding member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and was awarded the Légion d'honneur.


Fontanier, Victor. Voyage en Orient, entrepris par ordre du gouvernement français de l’année 1821 à l’année 1829, 2 vols. (Paris: Mongie aîné, 1829).
Fontanier, Victor. ‎Voyage en Orient, fait pendant les années 1831-1832 (Paris: Librairie Universelle, De P. Mongie Ainé, 1832).

‎ Fontanier, Victor. Voyage dans l'Inde et dans le Golfe Persique, par l'Egypte et la mer Rouge, 1844-1847, 3 vols. (Paris: 1844-1847).

Fontanier, Victor. Voyage dans l'Archipel Indien (Paris: Ledoyen, 1852).


“Notice bibliographique de M. Victor Fontanier, correspondant regnicole de l'Académie” in Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 2ᵉ année, 1858, p. 453.

Burkhardt, Richard. “Naturalists’ Practices and Nature’s Empire: Paris and the Platypus, 1815-18331” in Pacific Science (2001), vol. 55, no. 4:327-341.

Goren, Haim. Dead Sea Level: Science, Exploration and Imperial Interests in the Near East, (London, New York: I.B.Tauris, 2011).

Pilon, Maxime and Weiler, Danièle. The French in Singapore: An Illustrated History (Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2011).

Written by Nicolas Nicolaides

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