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Born in Paris, Clapeyron studied at the École polytechnique and the École des Mines, before leaving for Saint Petersburg in 1820 to teach at the École des Travaux Publics. He returned to Paris only after the Revolution of July 1830, supervising the construction of the first railway line connecting Paris to Versailles and Saint-Germain. He married Mélanie Bazaine, daughter of Pierre-Dominique Bazaine (mathematician and bridge and canal engineer), and older sister of Pierre-Dominique (Adolphe) Bazaine (railway engineer) and Francois Achille Bazaine (Marshal of France).

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