Following studies in Bordeaux, he worked as a librarian at Château de Bonzac, home of Elie Decazes (1780-1860), minister of Louis XVIII. From 1819 he studied theology in Montauban, becoming ordained as pastor at Nimes in December 1821. Afterwards he served as a minister in La Roche-Chalais (1822), then Montcaret (1824).
In June 1831 he resigned as pastor and instructor at the Protestant college in Sainte-Foy-la-Grande in order to head an independent evangelical community in Castétarbe. In 1850 he founded a home for the aged in Orthez.
He was the father of fourteen children who survived beyond infancy, including five sons who gained distinction during their careers:
- Élie Reclus (1827-1904), journalist and political activist
- Élisée Reclus (1830-1905), geographer and political activist
- Onésime Reclus (1837-1916), geographer
- Armand Reclus (1843-1927), geographer and explorer
- Paul Reclus (1847-1914), surgeon.
- Scènes d’une pauvre vie; Pau 1858.