The first of her class, Lapérouse was a French barbette cruiser laid down in 1875, and launched in 1877. She was armed with fifteen 140mm (5.5") guns, and eight 1 pounder revolving cannons. She was propelled by both a full rig of sail and a steam engine that allowed her to achieve 15 knots. Lapérouse served in the Far East Squadron from 1884 until 1898, when she was wrecked in a storm on 31 July. Her anchor chain broke in a gust, and Lapérouse was driven onto some rocks, but all of her crew survived.