After the grand tour of Verrazzano, working in the service of King Francis I of France, of the eastern seaboard in 1524, early French attempts at colonization in North America proved abortive. Attempts to establish settlements along the St Lawrence by Cartier and his successors were defeated by the climate and a hostile native population. Ribaut’s attempt to found a colony in Florida in 1564 was destroyed within the year by the Spanish. In the 17th century, Champlain and De la Salle proved formidable explorers and established a network of settlements through America that have, in many cases, survived to the present. Québec (1608), Montreal (1642) and Detroit (1701) all owe their origins to this period. From the 1680s, De la Salle established a ring of forts through the St Lawrence and Great Lakes regions, along the Mississippi to the Gulf. However, the French American territories would remain under-settled in comparison to their British rivals.
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