Michel Ardan is a photograph and explorer born in 708 AT, famous in the World of the Cities. He met Jules Verne, who turned him into a major character for one of his novels, was for a while director of the Genova Observatory, and contributed several scoops to L'Echo des Cités before creating his own newspaper, La Lumière, in 762 AT.
His career is very similar to that of French journalist Félix Tournachon, a.k.a. Nadar, in our own world 2). Given his character, the rumors about him being a lover of Duraine de Montignac, Marie-Laure (a.k.a. Marie Paulzen) are probably true.