He studied at the École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr, graduating on 1 October 1840 as a sous-lieutenant. He took part in the Crimean War, the French conquest of Algeria, campaigns in China and the Franco-Prussian War. A friend of Gambetta, he was minister for war several times in 1881, then in 1883 and 1885. He then became a sénateur inamovible. He also secretly translated The Perfumed Garden.
- "France/Monde | Le traducteur secret du « Kama-Sutra » arabe était un officier en poste à Lyon - Le Progrès". Leprogres.fr. Retrieved 2012-12-26.