He was born in Saint-Germain-Laval, near Lyon, France, and first visited New France in 1674. In September 1678, he left Montreal for Lake Superior, spending the winter near Sault Sainte Marie and reaching the western end of the lake in the fall of the following year where he concluded peace talks between the Saulteur and Sioux nations. Lured by native stories of the Western or Vermilion Sea (likely the Great Salt Lake in Utah), he reached the Mississippi River via the Saint Croix River in 1680 and then headed back to Fort Michilimackinac, where he heard that jealous Quebec merchants and the intendant Jacques Duchesneau de La Doussinière et d'Ambault were slandering him. He was forced to return to Montreal and then France in 1681 to defend himself against false accusations of treason, returning the following year.
He subsequently established fortifications to defend French interests at Fort Caministigoyan at the mouth of the Kaministiquia River, the site of the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Fort St. Joseph (Port Huron) between Lake Erie and Huron.
He died of gout in Montreal 25 February 1710.