Arsan was born in Bangkok, Thailand. At the age of 16 she was married to a French diplomat at UNESCO, Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane. The novel Emmanuelle, was published and distributed clandestinely in France, without an author's name, in 1959. Successive editions later bore the moniker Emmanuelle Arsan, who was subsequently revealed to be Marayat Rollet-Andriane. Though the novel was sometimes hinted to be a quasi-autobiography, it was later revealed that the actual author was Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane, or possibly both spouses. Several more novels were published under the Emmanuelle Arsan moniker. Following the success of the film adaptation Emmanuelle in 1974, Arsan was the titular director and writer of the film Laure (1975) about the sexual discoveries of a younger "Emmanuelle" named Laure in yet another exotic surroundings. The film was actually directed by producer Ovidio G. Assonitis and Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane.
She had also appeared on screen under the stage name Marayat Andriane in the 1966 film The Sand Pebbles and in the 1967 episode "Turn of a Card" of the U.S. series The Big Valley. Her only other film appearance was in Laure, which was also released under the title Forever Emmanuelle.