Exploratory Expedition through Indochina


Voyage d’exploration en Indo-Chine (Exploratory expedition through Indochina) is an edited and annotated reprint of the account of the Mekong expedition of 1867−68, first published in 1870 in the French geographic weekly Le Tour du Monde. The book is by Francis Garnier (1839−73), the young naval officer who is credited with proposing and being the driving force behind the expedition, which was commanded by a more senior naval officer, Captain Ernest Doudart De Lagrée (1823−68). Garnier was responsible for mapping the river and reporting on its peoples and natural resources, and assumed overall command following Lagrée’s death in March 1868. At the time of the expedition, the full course of the river and its source were unknown, and no European had ever traveled upstream beyond Vientiane (Laos). The expedition left Saigon on June 5, 1866, reached Shanghai in June 1868, and returned to Saigon on the 29th of that month. It covered some 10,000 kilometers, of which nearly 4,000 kilometers were on foot, mapping the Mekong Valley along the way and passing through parts of present-day Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma, and China. Garnier’s book describes in detail the peoples, places, and landscapes he encountered and analyzes the economic potential of the river. The work contains 211 woodcut engravings and two maps. Garnier was killed in December 1873 in an unsuccessful attempt to capture and hold Hanoi. This book was published posthumously.

Last updated: April 3, 2015