The Saint Geran was commissioned by the French Company of the Indies. She was launched at Orient on July 11, 1736 and, in February of 1737, sailed on her maiden voyage under the command of Captain L. Laurent Aubin Duplessis. She was destined for the East Indies, carrying cargo of textiles and metalware to be bartered for spices.
As was the case for all merchant vessels sailing down the coast of Africa and around the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean, she was heavily armed with a battery of 18 cannons as well as a company of soldiers to fight off pirate attacks. Although fast and maneuverable, she was no match for the numerous pirate ships that preyed on maritime commerce during this period.
All went well, until on the 17th of August she was overtaken by a fierce storm and wrecked off the north coast of Mauritius, known at that time as the Isle de France. Of her total complement of 149 officers and men only nine were rescued by the heroic action of the islanders. The story of her disastrous end and the heroism of the rescuers formed the theme of an epic novel, Paul and Virginia, published 24 years later by the writer Bernadin de Saint-Pierre.
Pieces of the wreck and artifacts salvaged over the years were collected and can be found at the naval museum of Mahebourg on Mauritius.