Massenet took a break from his composing to serve as a soldier in the Franco-Prussian War but returned to his art following the end of the conflict in 1871. Ninon became Massenet's wife in 1866. When he was six his family moved to Paris due to his father's ill-health.
However since the mid-1970s many operas of his such as Thaïs and Esclarmonde have undergone periodic revivals. Apart from Manon and Werther his works were rarely performed.