Caron was born in Boulogne-Billancourt, France to a French father and an American mother. She began taking ballet lessons at age 10 and joined Roland Petit's Ballet des Champs-Elysée in 1947 and quickly became one of the lead dancers of the company.
Noticed by Gene Kelly, she went to Hollywood to appear with him in the film An American in Paris (1951), which introduced her to the American public. She went on to appear in other musical films such as Lili (1953), for which she won a BAFTA Award for best actress, The Glass Slipper (1955), Daddy Long Legs (1955), opposite Fred Astaire, Gaby (1956) and Gigi (1958), to considerable acclaim.
In the 1960s, she turned to more dramatic roles in Fanny (1961), The L-Shaped Room (1962), which earned her a Golden Globe Award and a second BAFTA for best actress. She returned to romantic-comedy with Father Goose (1964), opposite Cary Grant. She also appeared in the war-thriller Is Paris Burning? (1966).
She has continued to work in films and on television in the United States and France: Carola (1973), QB VII (1974), The Man Who Loved Women (1977), Valentino (1977), Chocolat (2000), and Law and Order (2006), for which she won an Emmy Award.
She was married to British stage director Peter Hall from 1956 until 1965, with whom she had two children, Christopher (b. 1957) and Jennifer (b. 1958). From 1994 to 1995, she was partners with Robert Wolders.
- The Illustrated Who's Who of Cinema, Lloyd, Fuller & Desser, Portland House, 1987.