The 19th century was a time of great expansion for French cartography, propulsed by the fact France was the leading explorer and coloniser, mainly in Africa and East Indies, which is often reflected in the comparatively detailed maps of the particular colonised regions. French antique atlases were well nown for their highly decorated maps, with engraved cartouches presenting architectural monuments, local people, natural or industrial products or key natural features. What is unique about antique French world atlases is the fact they often begin with section containing several historical maps. French also published several historical and scientifical atlases.
Among the most well known cartographers and atlas publishers were Victor Levasseur, author of the amazingly decorative Atlas National Illustré de la France, Alexandre Vuillemin or father and son Pierre M. Lapie and Alexander Emile Lapie.