Why Did the French Come to America?

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French explorers came to the New World, including America, to find a route to the Pacific Ocean and to establish a successful colonial empire. The goal in developing the colonies was to export goods such as sugar, spices, seafood and furs. The major parts of French exploration in America and Canada were under the rule of King Francis I in the 16th century.

One of the renowned explorers sent by King Francis I in 1524 was Italian-born Giovanni da Verrazano, who was given the job of exploring the region around present-day Florida and Newfoundland to find a route to the Pacific Ocean. In 1534, Jacques Cartier embarked upon one of three journeys to explore the St. Lawrence River and the coast of Newfoundland. He was also charged with looking for a northwest passage linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Several colonies were started by the French in America in places such as Parris Island, S.C., Saint Croix Island, Maine, Fort St. Louis, Texas and what is now Jacksonville, Fla. Although the original colonies failed, the forts and settlements established in America by the French eventually became important cities such as Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis, Green Bay, Mobile, Biloxi and Baton Rouge.