The first Frenchman to explore the lower Mississippi was Rene Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle, who passed by New Orleans' site in April 1682 on a float down the Mississippi from Canada. De La Salle claimed the entire river basin from the Appalachians to the Rockies for France, naming the area Louisiana in honor of Louis XIV and his Austrian bride Queen Anne. The French explorers who followed La Salle into the region kept looking for high ground, but at first found none satisfactory enough for a settlement south of Baton Rouge. So, the French at first tried to get around the geological and environmental problems posed by the Mississippi's delta by founding Baton Rouge and by building a string of forts along the Gulf of Biloxi, Dauphin Island and Mobile. However, Baton Rouge soon proved unsatisfactory as a portage point between the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico, and the coastal forts made for a too insecure hold on the Mississippi. The route from Baton Rouge to the Gulf -- through the Mississippi Sound to Lake Borgne, then via Pass Manchac into Lake Maurepas and finally up the Amite River to the back side of Baton Rouge -- proved to be too long and out-of-the-way.