Educated at Lycee Charlemagne in Paris. Emigrated to America in 1850 and worked as schoolteacher in New Orleans. Returned to France with ambition of becoming an explorer and spent the rest of his life traveling and recording and publishing his travels. He is best known for his work on an expedition in Mexico, 1880-82, where he photographed, took casts and collected artifacts at Yucatan ruins. He was made an officer of the Legion of Honour.