Bayonne got their Top 14 campaign off to a great start on Friday with 18-13 win over defending champions Toulouse.
Racing MÃ©tro got revenge for last season's semi-final upset to Montpellier with a solid home win. On the other side of the capital, Stade FranÃ§ais ran five tries past Bordeaux for the biggest win of the opening day.
Agen scored in the very last minute to beat Brive by a single point while Perpignan thumped Castres.
Clermont were given an early scare but recovered to get the better of newly-promoted Lyon
Every side in France is missing players but Toulouse (12) and Clermont (13) have the biggest handicap as they face the first six rounds at least without their internationals who are preparing for the World Cup.
Bayonne 18-13 Toulouse
Brive 19-20 Agen
Clermont 22-13 Lyon
Stade FranÃ§ais 41-20 Bordeaux
Perpignan 25-6 Castres
Racing MÃ©tro 30-22 Montpellier
To follow on Saturday: Toulon v Biarritz Olympique
Aviron Bayonnais 18-13 Stade Toulousain
Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne
Trailing 9-0 at half-time thanks to three Benjamin Boyet penalties, Toulouse showed signs of life in the second period with former All Black Luke McAllister making an immediate impact when he came on.
But with both sides trading kicks, the champions still trailed 18-6 as the siren signalled the end of 80 minutes.
France reject Yannick Jauzion, however, crashed through for a try which at least enabled Toulouse to claim a defensive bonus point for finishing within seven points of Bayonne.
ASM Clermont Auvergne 22-13 Lyon Olympique
Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin, Clermont Ferrand
Phew! No one expected to Lyon to put up such a fight but the newcomers were unlucky not to get a losing bonus point. Clermont's usual fluid game was hampered by a number of errors and the wet conditions.
If Clermont came into this game with a hint of complacency it was knocked out of them within three minutes as Lyon loose forward Nicolas Bontinck counter attacked a Brock James chip to bust clear for Lyon's first try of the season!
Clermont were able to take a 12-10 lead into the break as James and Anthony Floch converted the hosts territorial dominance into points.
Scrum-half Kevin Senio's try shortly after the restart gave les Jaunards some breathing space before Floch's 80th penalty denied LOU a deserved bonus point.
Stade FranÃ§ais Paris 41-20 Bordeaux-BÃ¨gles
Stade CharlÃ©ty, Paris
Stade FranÃ§ais take the early lead of the championship thanks to a convincing win over the relegation favourites.
The crowd in Paris were treated to a super game featuring seven tries.
The hosts - sporting a squad that has seen a 70 per cent turnover - held a 24-14 lead thanks to tries from Australians Francis Fainifo (after just three minutes) and David Lyons with stalwart wing Julian Arias adding a third.
Bordeaux put up a brave fight, but tries in the last quarter from scrum-half Julien Dupuy and wing Djibril Camara secured a bonus point for the Parisians.
It was a welcome start to the season for the club which spent the summer fighting for financial survival before an 11th hour takeover package ensured they would stay in the top flight.
"We saw some good things tonight but it is difficult trying to build a new solidarity in a team," said former All Black scrum-half Byron Kelleher who moved to Stade from Toulouse in the close season.
"I am very happy to be here in Paris. Last season, I was thinking too much. I was afraid that I didn't really want to play rugby any more. Now, after the holiday and a little bit of relearning I am happy to be able to play a new season in the Top 14."
Racing-MÃ©tro 30-22 Montpellier HR
Stade Yves Du Manoir - Colombes (Paris)
They may have lost this battle, but Montpellier's performance in the capital sent out a signal that they will be force to be reckoned with in the long-term war for the title. Racing's pack ultimately won the day for the hosts, but it was neck-and-neck the whole way.
Missing twelve players, Montpol pushed their hosts all the way with young fly-half Raphael Lagarde showing he is ready to step into the gap left by FranÃ§ois Trinh-Duc's absence.
Alex Tulou touched down in the 17th minute to give the visitors the initiative but emerging Racing centre Henry Chevancy capitalised on Virimi Vakatawa's dancing break.
Lagarde's drop goal just before the break left the teams level at 19-19 at half-time.
Fijian loose forward Jone Qovu's try just before the hour mark proved to be the difference between the sides as Racing outscored their visitors two tries to one. Jonathan Wisniewski's penalty ten minutes later rounded out the win and a 20-point haul for the fly-half.
"To beat Montpellier - a finalist last season - and not even let them take a defensive bonus point is very satisfying for this first match, even if there is plenty of work still to be done," said Racing head coach Pierre Berbizier.
"I liked the spirit the team showed in the second half because it was a difficult match.
"The players showed real guts. It is a positive even if they cannot do that all season."
CA Brive CorrÃ¨ze 19-20 SU Agen
Stade AmÃ©dÃ©e Domenech, Brive
Heartbreak for Brive who led from the fourth minute only to see Valentine Courrent convert Agen full-back Silvere Tian's try from the touchline after the hooter.
Former Toulouse hooker Virgil Lacombe gave the hosts the ealry lead when he crashed over with Shane Geraghty converting for his first points in black and white.
Brive ruled in the first hour, cruising to a 19-3 lead.
But Agen were allowed back into the game with thirteen minutes left on the clock when the TMO gave the thumbs up to Tongan flank Ueleni Fono's try.
Tian joined the visitors backline to finish off a flowing move in the dying seconds before Courrent landed the killer bow.
USA Perpignan 25-6 Castres Olympique
Stade AimÃ© Giral, Perpignan
It wasn't pretty and neither side will be overly happy with the way they played, and the ref had plenty of work to do, but Perpignan will have no complaints about the result.
Despite making a number of errors, the Catalans started the Jacques Delmas era with a solid win thanks to the accurate kicking of Jerome Porical and a magnificent late try by South African centre Rudi Coetzee.
By contrast, Castres' South African scrum-half Rory Kockott had a shocker, landing just two of his five first-half penalties.