Île d'Orléans (French for Orleans Island) is located in the Saint Lawrence River about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east of downtown Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. The island was one of the first parts of the province to be colonized by the French, and a large percentage of French Canadians can trace ancestry to early residents of the island. The island has been described as the "microcosm of traditional Quebec and as the birthplace of francophones in North America."
Marois holds a bachelor's degree in social work from Université Laval, as well as a master's degree in business administration (MBA) from HEC Montréal. During the 1970s she gained experience with several community organizations, before working as press attachée for then-finance minister Jacques Parizeau. She also served as chief of staff for Lise Payette, minister responsible for the condition of women, and taught for some time at Université du Québec en Outaouais.