England Women had to settle for second best in the opening weekend of Six Nations action with France taking a two-try, 18-6 victory at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble on Saturday.
In a thrilling encounter, watched by a record French crowd of 9,650, England could not match a buoyant French side.
England banked the first points against the run of play with skipper Katy Mclean converting a penalty after some good work by Natasha Hunt and Emily Scarratt.
France immediately bounced back and put England under pressure again, drawing level when Sandrine Agricole struck a superb drop goal, underlining their ambitious play.
Mclean again booted England ahead, in the 30th minute, but their scoring ended there.
A penalty from Agricole drew the score level at half-time, and France made their decisive move after the interval when hooker and captain Gaelle Mignot crossed for the opening try from a line-out and driving maul.
Agricole could not add the extras, but England were finished off when Mignot grabbed her second try, from another driving maul, and Jessy Tremouliere kicked the conversion.