Orphaned as a result of his father's death during the First World War , Sarthou was brought up by his mother and grandfather in Montpellier. Leaving school, in 1927, he gained a place to study architecture at the Beaux Arts. After a year, he persuaded his family to let him study painting instead. He started his artistic studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Montpellier, then in 1930, he won a scholarship to study in Paris.
In 1943, he became a member of the Society of Independent Artists in Bordeaux, in 1949, he won the Prix Drouant and was invited to exhibit at Salon May. This was his first Parisian exhibition showing two paintings: Still Life and Open Window . He continued to exhibit in this particular exhibition until1963. Sarthou settled in Paris in 1950, where he was appointed professor of drawing at the Lycée Henri-IV , which allowed him to exhibit in the salons of the capital and to be more recognized.
Sarthou participated in numerous Exhibitions: Salon de Mai; Salon d'Automne which paid him special homagein 1979. In 1952, Sarthou left for the Basque coast and the Arcachon basin (1937-1950), favouring Languedoc and Provence. He settled at Sète.
In the 1960s Sarthou worked extensively in the South of France, exhibiting in Nice, Arles and elsewhere. In 1976, Sarthou was part of the French delegation of artists travelling to Japan.
Sarthou worked with a passion for representing the four natural elements, water, earth, sky and fire and the relationship of the visual to the inner experience. He is considered to be a proponent of lyrical abstraction
Sarthou died at the age of 88 in 1999; He is buried in Sete cemetery
Musee D’Art Moderne, Paris, National Library of France, Paris, National Museum of Art Luxembourg, Museum of Art Geneva, Stanford University, Princeton University, Fabre Museum Montpellier. Toulouse-Lautrec Museum Albi, Reattu Museum Arles and the Paul-Valery Museum in Sete