Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born on June 11, 1910, in Saint-André-de-Cubzac, Aquitaine. His mother, Marie Jeanne Elisabeth Duranthon, was the daughter of a wealthy landowner, and his father, Pierre Daniel Cousteau, was a lawyer. Jacques was the younger of their two sons. His elder brother’s name was Pierre-Antoine.
For the first seven years of his life, Cousteau suffered from chronic enteritis, a painful intestinal condition. In 1918, after the Treaty of Versailles, Cousteau's father found work as a legal adviser to Eugene Higgins, a wealthy New York expatriate. Higgins traveled extensively throughout Europe, with the Cousteau family in tow. Cousteau recorded few memories from his childhood; his earliest impressions, however, involved water and ships. His health greatly improved around this time, thanks in part to Higgins, who encouraged young Cousteau to learn how to swim. In 1920, the Cousteaus accompanied Higgins to New York City. He spent his summers at a camp on Vermont's Lake Harvey, where he first learned to dive underwater. At age 13, after a trip south of the American border, he authored a hand-bound book he called "An Adventure in Mexico." That same year, he purchased a Pathé movie camera, filmed his cousin's marriage, and began making short melodramatic films.