Full-back Jason Robinson, who was willing to swap his try in Paris last year for an England victory, celebrated with both.
His strike, bursting through to take a superb pass from centre Will Greenwood to race in and touch down near the post, gave England a grip on the game which they never relinquished.
Fly-half Jonny Wilkinson produced another awesome goal-kicking display which yielded 20 points to take him past the 600 milestone in internationals.
Wilkinson just could not miss as he punished the French with five penalties, a conversion and an immaculate drop-goal.
But England had to battle back and overturn an early deficit after Sale youngster Charlie Hodgson had his kick charged down by French flanker Olivier Magne, who collected one-handed to grab a fine opportunist try after just 16 minutes. Gerald Merceron converted to put France 7-3 in front.
Les Bleus actually scored three tries to England's one but the late flurry which brought their final two came too late to affect the outcome.
Full-back Clement Poitrenaud squeezed over in the right-hand corner in the 66th minute and then centre Damien Traille crossed the whitewash during injury time but four missed goal-kicking opportunities by Merceron proved costly for France.
Despite 12 minutes of injury time England withstood the late French pressure to secure an important victory.