Lapérouse was born under the name of Jean-François de Galaup, on August 23, 1741, at the Château du Gô, about four kilometers from the center of Albi, near Lescure d’Albigois. His father, Victor-Joseph de Galaup, was consul of the city of Albi, and came from a family that had become noble, with the title of knight, in the 16th century following its enrichment in the cultivation of woad. His mother, Marguerite de Rességuier, was originally from Sauveterre-de-Rouergue: also a noblewoman, she was the daughter of an officer of the Rouergue regiment. Of the ten children of the couple, only three survived to adulthood: Jean-François, the eldest; Jacquette, born one year after him, and Victoire, eighteen years his junior.
Jean-François de Galaup studied until the age of fifteen at the Jesuit College, located on the site of the present Lycée Lapérouse in Albi, of which only the chapel remains of the original building. There he met Henri Pascal de Rochegude, born the same year as him, who also became an officer in the French Royal Navy.
Probably influenced and supported by Clément Taffanel de la Jonquière, one of his parents, a naval officer (from Graulhet, also in the Tarn, born in 1706 and died in 1795), Jean-François entered the Naval Guard School in Brest in 1756. To be admitted, he had to be a nobleman and he had to prove an annual income of 400 livres: his parents offered him the farm of La Peyrouse, near Albi. It is from this time that he will add the patronymic of “de Lapérouse” to his name.