The nerves were obvious in the opening 10 minutes of the match as Frederic Michalak missed a penalty that would have given his side the opening points, slicing his effort horribly short, before Scott Spedding struck the post.
Ireland soon got three on the board down the other end as a offside by the French allowed Jonny Sexton to blast his first kick of the night through the posts.
The two sides continued to exchange kicks, with Spedding finding the target with a couple of efforts, including one from just inside his own half, while Sexton added his second, but was forced off with an apparent rib injury just a few minutes later.
The fly-half had to be replaced by Ian Madigan, but the replacement was quickly up to speed, splitting the uprights with Ireland's third penalty of the match just a few moments after coming on.
Both sides started to push for the opening try of the match as half time approached, with Tommy Bowe breaking down the left only for Keith Earls to fumble the pass, while Wesley Fofana went over, only to see the play called back for a knock on.