Born Yves Giraud he acquired a second surname after his father died and his mother remarried a doctor. His childhood ambition was to be an orchestra conductor and he was a fine musician but when he discovered automobiles they became his passion and he started to work as a mechanic with the Salmson company in Paris, which was well known for its racing cyclecars which were dominant at the time in the hands of Robert Benoist.
Giraud-Cabantous began his long motor racing career at Christmas 1924 when his father bought him a Noel car. His racing debut came in March 1925 in a hillclimb at Argenteuil, and by 1927 he had won his first race, the GP des Frontieres at Chimay in a Salmson. He was soon developing his own cars and in 1930 won the Bol d'Or 24-hour race in his own Caban, later successfully racing a Bugatti and a Delahaye, in which he finished second at Le Mans.
After the war, he joined Ecurie France in 1947 and won a variety of events (emerging victorious at Chimay, Montlhery and San Remo in 1947, and winning the GP de Paris in 1948) in Delahayes but he then switched to Talbot-Lago and, despite being in his forties, was hired to be a member of the Talbot factory team and in 1948 was the French Champion.
In 1950 he joined the official Talbot team and by finishing fourth in the British Grand Prix became the first French driver to score World Championship points. Financial difficulties saw the team disbanded, but Giraud-Cabantous joined Ecurie Rosier, with his own Talbot, finishing third at Albi in 1952, then joined the HWM team for a number of races in 1952-53. His 'steady-as-she-goes' approach by this time was perhaps understandable, but he did bring the car home to the finish regularly. In sports cars he was second sharing Rosier's Talbot in the Reims 12 Hours in 1953, his last full season. Yves made occasional appearances over the next few years and he continued to race in sportscar events until 1957 when he retired to concentrate on a transportation business he had established.