Ireland have won just once in the French capital since 1972, with a Brian O'Driscoll hat-trick handing them a sensational triumph 12 years ago.
O'Connell has lost all five of his previous international visits to the Stade de France, with a poor Irish start followed by a gutsy but ultimately unsuccessful comeback a re-occurring scenario.
"We've certainly played some good rugby there, but usually after we've left ourselves with too big a mountain to climb," said O'Connell, who is acting Ireland captain in the absence of O'Driscoll.
"We've given them soft tries in my time since I've been there. That's been the most common theme and you just can't do that in Paris.
"A big part of it for us will be eradicating those errors that can cost you momentum. Maybe we've tried a little bit too hard in the past.
"Against France we must play in the right parts of the pitch. In the first half-hour against Italy last weekend it wasn't a great performance, but we were patient.
"If we play to our potential we can beat anyone, but reaching that level is the challenge. You have to take you best game over there."
History may be against the Irish but hooker Rory Best insists he and his team-mates believe Sunday's encounter is far from a foregone conclusion.
The in-form Ulsterman admits that they face the toughest of tasks but it's exactly the kind of challenge all top players should want to face.
"As competitive players you want to have these big moments in your career. Sunday evening can be one of those for us,'' said Best.
"We go there full of confidence, but we're fully aware of how long it's been since we've beaten them in Paris
"The record books say that us winning in Paris doesn't happen very often, so from an Irish point of view it would be a massive result for us.
"It's a massive challenge, but we have an opportunity to write ourselves into the history books."