Paul Louis Charles Marie Claudel was born on August 6, 1868, in Villeneuve-sur-Fère (Aisne), France, into a family of farmers and government officials. His father, Louis-Prosper, dealt in mortgages and bank transactions. His mother, the former Louise Cerveaux, came from a Champagne family of Catholic farmers and priests.
When Claudel was a year old, his family moved to the town of Bar-le-Duc. In 1881, when he was entering his teenage years, they moved again, this time to Paris.