She was an older paternal half-sister to Marguerite of France, Alys, Countess of the Vexin, Philip II of France and Agnes of France. She was also an older maternal half-sister to William, Count of Poitiers, Henry the Young King, Matilda of England, Richard I of England, Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany, Leonora of England, Joan of England and John of England.
Her parents' marriage was annulled in 1152, and the custody of Marie and her sister Alix was awarded to their father, King Louis. Their mother Eleanor remarried to King Henry II of England, and so left France. In 1160, when her father King Louis married Adele of Champagne, he betrothed both Marie and Alix to Adele's brothers. After her betrothal, Marie was sent to the abbey of Avenay in Champagne for her education.
In 1164, Marie married Henry I, Count of Champagne. They had four children:
Marie was left as Regent for Champagne when Henry I left on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. While her husband was gone, Marie's father died and her half-brother Philippe became king. He confiscated the dower lands of his mother Adele (also Marie's sister-in-law) and then married Isabelle of Hainaut, who had been previously betrothed to Marie's eldest son. This prompted Marie to join a party of disgruntled nobles -- including Queen Adele and the archbishop of Reims -- in plotting against Philippe. Eventually, relations between Marie and her royal brother improved. Her husband returned from the Holy Land, but died almost immediately. Now a widow with four young children, Marie considered marrying Philip of Flanders, but the engagement was broken off suddenly for unknown reasons.
After Henry I's death in 1181, Marie acted as regent from 1181 to 1187, when her son Henry came of age. However, Henry II left to go on Crusade, and so Marie once again served as regent in his absence from 1190 to Henry's death in 1197. She retired to the nunnery of Fontaines-les-Nones near Meaux, and died there in 1198.
Marie is remembered today mainly for her role in the heresy that was the target of the Albigensian Crusade. She was also a patron of literature, including Andreas Capellanus, who served in her court, and Chrétien de Troyes. She was literate in French and Latin and maintained her own library.