The "frightened" beast was found in a cage in an apartment in Noisy-le-Sec, on the outskirts of Paris, according to emergency services.
Police in nearby Montreuil launched a hunt for it after seeing selfies posted on social media of the 24-year-old posing with his pet.
The man had already attracted attention by riding a horse through the town.
They found him at his home on Tuesday but discovered he had left the lion cub at the flat in Noisy.
Animal experts attached to the fire brigade went to that adress and found it "wasting away", catching it with a lasso and placing it in the care of an animal rights group.
The man has been taken into custody and charged with illegally keeping a wild animal.
He could also be charged with ill-treatment.
"It's important to remind everyone that wild animals are neither pets nor toys and are subject to specific regulations," the Paris fire brigade comments on its website.
Tiger cub found in 2016
In 2016 a group of drug dealers were found to have been keeping a tiger cub to hire him out for selfies at five euros a go in Noisy-le-Sec.
Fearing that he might attract the attention of the police, they got rid of him.
A reformed criminal who worked on rehabilitating delinquents, Mohamed Anomer, took him for several days before giving him to a zoo.