The French seemed on course for a resounding victory as they ran in six tries to open up a 43-3 lead over the error-prone visitors.
Ireland rallied to touch down through Ronan O'Gara, Gordon d'Arcy, Donncha O'Callaghan and Andrew Trimble in the second half but France had done enough.
Cedric Heymans and David Marty scored two tries apiece for France after Aurelien Rougerie had justified his recall by starting what, for an hour, looked like being a rout in the third minute.
The afternoon started badly for Ireland as Rougerie found space to touch down out wide and Olivier Magne, also restored to the side, added a second after eight minutes.
Marty charged down a kick to claim his first and a poor Geordan Murphy pass allowed Heymans to intercept and add another before the interval.
Heymans claimed his second five minutes after the restart and Marty made it 43-3 three minutes later.
Ireland scored what seemed a consolation as O'Gara found his way in by the posts on 56 minutes but d'Arcy followed him over four minutes later.
O'Callaghan then forced his way over from close range and Trimble set up a remarkable finish with another moments later.
Despite further pressure, it was all too late for Ireland, however, and France held on.