The Republic of Ireland's hopes of World Cup qualification suffered a massive blow as Thierry Henry's goal earned France victory in Dublin.
Shay Given denied Zinedine Zidane with a superb save early on but Andy Reid hit the French woodwork as the Republic improved before half-time.
France began to get on top after the break and Henry curled in a glorious winner as the Irish defence stood off.
But despite being a goal down, the Republic barely threatened late on.
The visitors started brightly and Shay Given produced a superb save in the seventh minute to stop a goalbound curling free-kick from Zidane.
After their nervous start, the Republic began to settle and Reid was inches away from putting the Irish ahead when his free-kick from the edge of the box crashed off the woodwork.
Clinton Morrison, who had won the free kick, had already picked up a caution by that stage which will rule him out of Ireland's next qualifier in Cyprus.
Undeterred, Morrison then latched on to a flick-on from Robbie Keane but the Crystal Palace man's half-volley was inches wide of the French goal.
Clinton Morrison went close for the Republic in the first half
The Irish continued to press and Robbie Keane was denied by a last-ditch Willy Sagnol tackle but Makelele went close in the 23rd minute with a low drive after he had outfoxed Roy Keane.
Keane, far and away the Republic's best player on the night, then put in one vigorous challenge too many before half-time with a tackle on Makelele resulting in a booking which rules out the Manchester United star from the game in Cyprus.
The French began to look increasingly comfortable after the break with the home side seeming to run out of ideas.
A silly challenge by Reid meant that he joined the list of Irish absentees in Cyprus and Zidane joined the Tottenham man in referee Herbert Fandel's notebook after an over-zealous tackle on Dunne.
Henry produced his moment of magic to put the French ahead with just over 20 minutes left when he curled a glorious shot past Given from 25 yards.
French boss Domenech withdrew Zidane and Henry in the closing stages with Florent Malouda and Djibril Cisse coming on.
Irish boss Brian Kerr opted for the aerial route to try to salvage a point with Gary Doherty introduced for Morrison and Ian Harte coming on for the ineffective Kilbane.
However, the changes made no difference to the Republic's disjointed second-half efforts with their key attacking players Damien Duff and Robbie Keane unable to get into the game at all.
Despite the defeat, victories in their last two games against Cyprus and Switzerland next month will leave Ireland with a good chance of making the play-offs although goal difference could yet come into the equation.
Rep of Ireland: Given, Carr, Cunningham, Dunne, O'Shea, Andy Reid, Roy Keane, Kilbane (Doherty 79), Duff, Robbie Keane, Morrison (Harte 79).
Subs Not Used: Kenny, O'Brien, Finnan, Steven Reid, Elliott.
Booked: Morrison, Roy Keane, Carr, Andy Reid.
France: Coupet, Sagnol (Givet 89), Thuram, Boumsong, Gallas, Makelele, Wiltord, Vieira, Dhorasoo, Zidane (Malouda 69), Henry (Cisse 75).
Subs Not Used: Landreau, Reveillere, Squillaci, Diarra.
Booked: Sagnol, Zidane.
Goals: Henry 67.
Ref: Herbert Fandel (Germany).