He taught at the lycee Charlemagne in 1853, and in the school of architecture 1865-1871, but his energies were mainly devoted to various scientific missions entrusted to him.
He made public profession of his republican principles as a schoolboy at the Lycee Charlemagne by refusing in 1867 to receive a prize at the Sorbonne from the hand of the prince imperial.
Ardently devoted to the service of humanity, he projected a scheme for a general concourse of all the savants in Europe, and started in London a paper, Journal du Lycee de Londres, which was to be the organ of their views.
His mother belonged to the family of the Cheniers, and he was well educated, first at the lycee of Marseilles, and then in the faculty of law at Aix.
In 1813 he was appointed professor of chemistry at the Lycee Charlemagne, and subsequently undertook the directorship of the Gobelins tapestry works, where he carried out his researches on colour contrasts (De la loi du contraste simultane des couleurs, 1839).
He was professor of moral philosophy at Bourges (1845-1848) and Strassburg (1848-- 1857), and of logic at the lycee Louis-le-Grand, Paris (1857-1864).
A place was offered him in the imperial printing office, but his father was able to send him to the famous College or Lycee Charlemagne, where he distinguished himself.
He became aspirant repetiteur at the lycee of Rheims in 1853, and after holding several intermediate positions was appointed in 1862 to the professorship of chemistry in Sens lycee, where he prepared the thesis on electromotive force which gained him his doctor's degree at Paris in the following year.
At the head of the educational institutions stands the university, founded in 1784 by Joseph II., transformed into a lycee in 1803, and restored and reorganized in 1817.
In 1847 he took his degree as Agrege de Philosophie; that is to say, fellow of the university, and was offered a place as master in the lycee of Vendome.