French situation at that time
France was the last of the major European maritime powers of the 17th century to enter the East India trade in a significant way. Six decades after the foundation of the English and Dutch East India companies (in 1600 and 1602 respectively), and at a time when both companies were multiplying factories on the shores of India, the French still didn’t have a viable trading company and a single permanent establishment in the East.
Historians have been pondering the reasons why France was so late in entering the fray. They cite geopolitical circumstances such as the inland position of the capital, the size of the country itself, the numerous internal custom barriers, the lack of cohesiveness of the merchant communities of the Atlantic coast set in their parochial ways and reluctant to invest significantly in a large-scale company that trade with the distant East Indies called for.
The first French expedition to India is believed to have taken place in the first half of the 16th century, during the reign of François I, when two ships were fitted out by some merchants of Rouen to trade in eastern seas; they sailed from Le Havre and were never heard of again. In 1604 a company was granted letters patent by Henri IV, but the project failed. Fresh letters patent were issued in 1615, and two ships went to India, only o...