Seventeen years her husband's senior, Jeanne-Charlotte Fleury de La Gorgdendière was born to a minor noble family, the seigneurs or lords of Eschambault, in Québec in 1683. She married a military officer, François Le Verrier de Rousson, in 1705. Widowed in 1732, Jeanne-Charlotte appears to have been quite the feisty lady; without a husband's protection, she turned to retail as a means to make ends meet for herself and her two children. She married her second husband, Pierre de Rigaud, after a lengthy relationship that began sometime before 1743; the unmarried couple sailed to France after his mother's death in 1740, and she accompanied the marquis to Louisiana when he was named governor. They were finally married in New Orleans in 1746.
Although metropolitan nobles forfeited their social privileges if they engaged in any type of commerce or trade in France, the colonial nobility was freed from such constraints by a 1680s royal decree. It was believed that they would help stimulate the provincial economy. However, distance from France did not lessen ingrained cultural values, especially as they applied to nobility, women, and trade. In French colonial New Orleans, the marquise de Vaudreuil ignored these by running a retail store from the governor's home. Honoré de Villebois de La Rouvillière, intendant of Louisiana and second in command after the governor, described how the marquise practiced "a baser commerce" in a 1753 letter. She apparently had "business with everyone here and she forces the merchants and individuals to take in her merchandise to sell at the prices that she fixes. She has a storehouse at her house of all sorts of drugs, which her steward sells; and when he is not there she takes up the ell and the measuring rods herself. Her husband is not ignorant of it. He gets a good revenue from it, and this is the motive of all his desires and his occupations."