Not for the first time , full-back Niamh Briggs starred for the hosts against a first class French fifteen, who were much improved from the team that took part in the 2010 World Cup in England. Briggs scored a late try and conversion, but the visitors held out for their second win of the Championship. France, who hammered Scotland in their opening game, had a lot of the early pressure and were rewarded for their endeavours with a sixth minute penalty from centre Sandrine Agricole, in front of the posts.
Ireland fought hard against persistent French pressure – the likes of Briggs, Lynne Cantwell , Mairead Kelly and Joy Neville were involved in most of Ireland’s best moves.
The Irish side fell further behind when they conceded a second penalty to Agricole in 19th minute, but the girls in green bounced back superbly.
New winger Niamh Kavanagh lifted the large home support with a well-taken 21st minute try, stretching over in the right corner for her second try in as many games.
The score came after Cantwell had outpaced Elodie Poublan to a ball, and Kavanagh showed impressive skill to finish off.
Briggs missed the difficult conversion so half time came with France maintaining their 6-5 lead.
From the restart , full-back Caroline Ladagnous was just inches away from grabbing the visitors’ first try in the 44th minute, but again it was Briggs to the rescue.
Ireland were caught out, with 17 minutes remaining, when French prop Christelle Chobet broke through for a crucial try. A 74th minute penalty from replacement Aurelie Bailon then made it 14-5.
The hosts showed great resolve as they pressed hard for a late score and their efforts were rewarded.
In injury-time, Briggs struck from close range to touch down and add the conversion.
However, the Irish were unable to conjure up a match-winning drop goal, ending their hopes of a second Six Nations victory over France in three years.
Referee: Federica Guerzoni (Italy)
Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians/Munster), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), Geraldine Rea (Highfield/Munster),Mairead Kelly (UL Bohemians/Munster); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Amy Davis (Blackrock/Leinster); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Gillian Bourke (Bristol/Munster), Lauren Day (Waterloo/Ulster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Laura Guest (Highfield/Munster), Carol Staunton (Galwegians/Connacht), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Joy Neville (UL Bohemians/Munster). Replacements used: Larissa Muldoon (UWIC/Exile) for Davis (69 mins), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster) for Staunton, Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Leinster) for Rea (both 77). Not used: Stacey Kennedy (City of Derry/Ulster), Emer McManamly (Blackrock/Leinster), Deirdre O’Brien (Blackrock/Leinster), Gill Nolan (St. Mary’s/Leinster)
Caroline Ladagnous (Lons); Laurelin Fourcade (Bobigny), Elodie Poublan (Montpellier), Sandrine Agricole (Rennes), Dioni Aguerre (Bayonne); Nadege Casenave (Lons), Marie Alice Yahé (Perpignan) (capt); Lise Arricastre (Lons), Laetitia Salles (Perpignan), Christelle Chobet (Perpignan), Sandra Rabier (Caen), Cyrielle Bouisset (Perpignan), Koumiba Djossouvi (Lons), Marie Charlotte Hebel (Rennes), Aida Ba (Bobigny). Replacements used: Helen Ezanno (Rennes) for Arricastre, Gaelle Mignot (Montpellier) for Salles (both 52 mins), Audrey Parra (Montpellier) for Casenave, Aurelie Bailon (Perpignan) for Fourcade (both 69), Celine Barthelemy (Bordeaux) for Chobet, Marine de Nadai (Montpellier) for Rabier, Myriam Loyez (Perpignan) for Djossouvi (all 74)