Institut Polaire Francais (IPE​V)

Photo: C Fresser

About France’s National Antarctic Program

COMNAP Representative (MNAP): Jérôme Chappellaz, Director
(DMNAP): Gaëlle Sellin, Head of Operations

The French National Antarctic Program is led by the French Polar Institute (Institut Polaire Français Paul Emile Victor – IPEV) which was originally created under the name of Institut Français pour la Recherche et la Technologie Polaire (IFRTP) in 1992. IPEV is a governmental support agency providing a legal framework and the human, logistical, technical and financial resources to the development of French research in Polar Regions.

Its main missions are:

  • to support and to implement national and international scientific and technological programs in polar regions (in Arctic, Antarctic and Sub-antarctic),
  • to organise scientific expeditions,
  • to build and to maintain infrastructure and equipment in support of research,
  • to organise oceanographical campaigns, using its ships (mainly the N/O Marion-Dufresne, and l’Astrolabe).
Aerial view of Dumont d”Urville Station. Photo by K. Pierre / IPEV.

France operates two stations in Antarctica: Dumont d’Urville Station, in Adelie Land, and the French-Italian joint Concordia Station.

Dumont d’Urville was built in 1956 on Petrel Island where it houses a maximum of 30 people in winter (about 100 in summer).

Concordia was built in 1997 and is operated year round since 2005. It can house 15 people in winter and 60 people in summer. The inland Concordia Station is re-supplied annually by three ground traverses leaving Cap Prudhomme Station, a small annex station of Dumont d’Urville. In addition,

France operates three stations in the Sub-antarctic islands: Crozet, Kerguelen and Amsterdam Islands.

Aerial view of Dumont d”Urville Station. Photo by K. Pierre / IPEV.

The R/V Marion Dufresne is used for oceanographic studies and logistical support to the Sub-antarctic Islands. This ship was built in 1995, and has onboard a giant corer making it well-equipped to study paleoclimate, marine geoscience and the physics of the ocean. Outreach and educational programs are offered to students via the ship through floating universities and teachers at sea programs.

R/V Marion Dufresne and the L’Astrolabe. Photos by Gladu / IPEV and Vitoux / IPEV.

Other means of logistical support come from smaller vessels such as L’Astrolabe & Twin Otter and Basler aircrafts (chartered by PNRA, Italy).

Organizational Structure of the IPEV

IPEV is a public interest group (GIP) composed of nine public and parastatal bodies including the Ministry of Research, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the main French scientific organizations (CNRS, CNES, CEA, Ifremer). The Ministry of Research is primarily responsible for providing the budget of the IPEV: approximately € 28 millions, of which about € 15 million are allocated to scientific, technical and logistical polar activities and €10 millions to oceanography.

IPEV has 50 staff based at its headquarters in Brest (35 of them appointed by the CNRS and 15 by IPEV) plus some 70 staff in the field on fixed term contracts.

Our Science Program

Some 80 research programs covering all disciplines are selected every year by IPEV on the recommendation of its Council on Polar Scientific and Technological programs (CPST, an international group of 16 independent experts in the different fields of science), of which 75% are conducted in Antarctica or in the Sub-antarctic Islands.

Topics of research include Glaciology, Meteorology, Atmospheric Sciences, Ice and Climate Change, Astronomy, Coastal Oceanography, Geology, Biology, Ecology, Physiology and Psychology. Priority is given to long term observatories in the field of Earth and Life Sciences.

France believes international cooperation is crucial for research and logistical support and so works with many other COMNAP National Antarctic Programs, but, in particular, with the National Antarctic Programs from Italy, Germany and Australia. It is worth noting that IPEV operates with the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) their joint Arctic station in Svalbard.

The joint French-Italian station, Concordia. Photo by Peirre / IPEV.

Our Contact Details


Postal Address

CS 60 07
29280 Plouzane

Physical Address

Technopôle Brest-Iroise
Site de la Pointe du Diable
29280 Plouzane, France

Phone +33 (0) 2 98 05 65 00
Fax +33 (0) 2 98 05 65 10