England Women lost their opening game of the Six Nations as France claimed a 18-6 victory in Grenoble.
In a thrilling encounter, watched by a record French crowd of 9,650 people, England couldn't match a buoyant French side in every area and they consequently paid the price on Saturday.
Both sides made a breathless start with France really rising to the vociferous crowd and putting England under pressure. England, however, banked the first points of the evening with skipper Katy Mclean converting a penalty after good work by Lichfield duo Natasha Hunt and Emily Scarratt.
France immediately bounced back and put England under pressure again. A line-out and drive saw them go close but in the end they added three points after Sandrine Agricole struck a superb drop-goal, underlining France's ambition.
France had another chance at goal some minutes later but missed, but their momentum continued and a super charged France caught England napping at the scrum. Only a massive defensive effort kept France out and in the end England over turned their hosts with Scarratt making the break up field and then Maggie Alphonsi. Alphonsi couldn't stay on her feet but France were penalised and Mclean edged England into a 6-3 lead on 30 minutes.
France stuck with it though and Agricole slotted home an important kick at goal just six minutes later to keep the crowd on tenterhooks and make the score 6-6 at half-time.
France kept the upper-hand after the break and although they missed an early shot at goal they went ahead when hooker and captain Gaelle Mignot scored from a line-out and driving maul. Agricole didn't convert making the score 11-6.
France's ascendency continued with the home side successfully taking on England up front and whilst full-back Jessy Tremouliere missed a penalty France remained in control.
Matters then worsened for England as another line-out saw France inflict a powerful driving maul, and England couldn't stop the juggernaut. Mignot went over once again, and with Tremouliere this time taking the conversion France took a more assailable 6-18 lead and in the end the victory.
England Head Coach Gary Street said: "This was a disappointing performance in every aspect. We let ourselves down whilst France took their opportunities. We thought we had done our preparations well but clearly we have not done them well enough. This is a big lesson for us to learn and we have got to get it right against Scotland next Sunday."