Marie-Joséphine-Louise de Montaut-Navailles was the daughter of a nobleman who had served as the governor of King Louis XVI and his two brothers as children. She was raised in the household of Philippe Egalité, duc d'Orléans, and shared the education given to his children by Madame de Genlis. She fled France with her mother after the king's execution during the French Revolution, and eventually settled in England. There she married a fellow émigré, Charles Michel, marquis de Gontaut-Saint-Blacard, with whom she had two daughters. With the Restoration of the Bourbons in 1814, the family returned to Paris and resumed their former prominent positions at court. The marquise became lady-in-waiting to Caroline de Bourbon-Siciles, duchesse de Berry. She was created a vicomtesse and then duchesse de Gontaut in her own right. From 1819 to 1836, she was governess to the French royal children. With the collapse of the Bourbon dynasty in 1830, she accompanied the royal family into exile. Later she was dismissed by King Charles X and returned to Paris. Her personal reminiscences were published posthumously in two volumes as Memoires de madame la duchesse de Gontaut, gouvernante des Enfants de France.