Pierre de Rigaud was born in Québec the 22 of November 1698. The fourth son of soon-to-be governor-general Philippe de Rigaud, marquis de Vaudreuil, and Acadian noble wife, Elisabeth de Joybert, Pierre followed the established aristocratic tradition of military service as early as 1706, when he served as an ensign in the French colonial army in Canada. He was made lieutenant in 1711, and soon after left for France carrying dispatches as a midshipman. With the help of his mother, who had been appointed under-governess to the children of the duc de Bourgogne, a grandson of Louis XIV, Pierre attained the grade of captain in 1715 and major general by 1726.
The young Pierre de Rigaud made a return voyage to Canada to settle his late father's estate in 1726. He probably accompanied his mother from Québec to France in 1728, where he was decorated with the highly coveted royal and military order of Saint-Louis the following year. His first administrative position in French North America was that of governor of the town of Trois-Rivières, situated between Québec and Montréal, a post granted to him in 1733. The death of his mother in Paris called for a return to France in 1740. Again he was awarded a new colonial position: the governorship of Louisiana. He arrived in New Orleans in 1743, and would serve in this capacity until 1753. Well-liked, the marquis and his wife were known for throwing elaborate parties and balls, including what might have been the first pre-Lenten carnival festivities in New Orleans. Pierre de Rigaud also helped stimulate the economy of French colonial Louisiana, introducing indigo production and encouraging the cultivation of rice and tobacco. He also turned a blind eye to Franco-Spanish smuggling, thus helping the colony stay alive economically.
Pierre de Rigaud received word that he would be replaced as governor of Louisiana in 1753. He returned to Paris with his wife, and the couple lived in the capital until 1755 when he was finally named governor-general of New France. This most prestigious of colonial administrative positions granted him authority over all of France's North American empire, at least on paper.
Vaudreuil surrended Montréal to the British under Jeffery Amherst in 1760. He returned to France, where he was blamed for these major territorial losses. Imprisoned in the Bastille for a few months in 1762, he was soon freed and exonerated of all charges. Louis XV would cede almost all of France's North American possessions to Great Britain and Spain in 1763 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. Pierre de Rigaud and his wife lived in what is now the Marais district in Paris. Their urban townhouse stood in the rue de Tournelles, a few blocks from the Bastille in the parish of Saint-Paul. The widowed marquis de Vaudreuil lived on a pension of several thousand livres from the king, tended to by a daughter of the marquis de Montcalm.