The childhood of Alexis and his two brothers Hippolyte and Edouard, was spent in Verneuil-sur-Seine, at the castle, then in Paris. He has a tutor, Father Lesueur, whom he nicknames “Bébé”, who was also the tutor of his father and brothers.
In April 1820 he left Paris for Metz, where his father Hervé was appointed prefect. He graduated there in 1823. During these years, he moved from childhood to adulthood without transition.
At the age of 16, he had a child with Marguerite Meyer, a seamstress employed in Metz Prefecture, a daughter Louise, born on August 9, 1822. His father settled the affair by giving money to a soldier who agreed to take up fatherhood, as well as to Marguerite’s family.
In February 1823, at the age of 17, he fought a duel with a pistol to defend the honour of a young lady whom he had fallen in love with; during a party, a drunken young lieutenant, whom the young lady had refused to dance with, accused her of levity: Alexis had to wash her honour. During this duel, he is injured in the chest.
Indeed, in September 1821, he fell in love with Rosalie Malye, daughter of Joseph Malye’s daughter, a retired officer and archivist of the prefecture.
In 1827, after obtaining his law degree, Alexis went on a trip to Italy with his brother Edward : Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Sicily. On his way to this island, to meet the descendants of the Normans, he missed shipwreck. He promises, if he survives, to give Rosalie his freedom back, which he will do. During this trip he learns that he is appointed auditor judge at the court of Versailles, which does not enchant him more than that!
In September 1828, he travelled to Normandy with Mary Mottley, his brother Hippolyte and his wife Emilie. There, he discovered Tocqueville and the castle that his grandmother Damas-Cruz left to his father and which has not been inhabited for 50 years. He falls in love with Mary.