Antoine François Marmontel was born in Clermont-Ferrand. He entered the Paris Conservatory in 1827. His teachers were Pierre Zimmerman in pianoforte, Victor Dourlen in harmony, Jacques Fromental Halévy in fugue and Jean-François Le Sueur in composition. He achieved first prizes in theory of music and piano.
In 1837, he became an assistant in theory of music at the Conservatory. In 1848 he succeeded Zimmerman as Professor of Keyboard at the Conservatory, beating his former teacher Charles-Valentin Alkan, and as a consequence derailing the latter's career. His memoir of his sometime colleague in his book 'Les pianistes célèbres' is nonetheless one of the most valuable sources for Alkan's biography.
Marmontel's son Antonin Emil Louis Corbaz Marmontel (24 April 1850, Paris – 23 July 1907) was also a piano teacher at the Conservatoire. He wrote many salon pieces.