Born in Aix-en-Provence he spent his youth roaming the surrounding countryside until his father's antipathy to his professed artistic ambitions drove him away. Settling in Paris he spent many hours touring the Louvre and making full use of the many free art academies in Montparnasse. In the 1930s he participated with Francis Gruber and Pierre Tal Coat in the group known as the 'Forces Nouvelles' and began exhibiting his paintings of Biskra in Southern Algeria at the Galerie Billet-Worms in 1934. In 1936 his friend Darius Milhaud introduced him to the gallery owner Pierre Colle who began exhibiting his works and the following year he won the prix Paul Guillaume.
He continued to work and exhibit throughout the war, participating in 'Twenty Young French Painters' at the Galerie Braun in May 1941. Marchand and many of his fellow exhibitors at this exhibition went on to form the Salon de Mai. This group, under the direction and presidency of the critic Gaston Diehl was founded in a café on the Rue Dauphine in Paris in 1943 in opposition to Nazi ideology and its condemnation of degenerate art. The same year Marchand married the decorator Yvonne Sjoestadt and began giving drawing lessons to the painter Françoise Gillot. In 1944 the collector Aimé Maeght invited him to work in Cannes and Saint-Paul-de-Vence and introduced him to Matisse and Bonnard. Maeght opened his own gallery in 1945 on the rue de Téhéran in Paris and a year later dedicated a large and critically acclaimed exhibition to Marchand. Picasso took umbrage to the success of Marchand's exhibition and, mortified, Marchand wrote “the falling out between us is complete”. By the end of the 1940s he was enjoying an international reputation and was invited to exhibit at the art bienniale of Sao Paolo in 1951 and Venice in 1954. A large retrospective of his work was held at the Galerie Charpentier in Paris in 1956. A thirty year retrospective was held at Réattu Museum in 1963. He died at Arles in 1997.