France coach Bernard Laporte said his team should be proud of their efforts after their bid to win the World Cup on home soil was ended by England.
The match was Laporte's final game in charge of France
The champions won a gripping semi-final 14-9 thanks to Jonny Wilkinson's boot.
"I would like to congratulate my team," said Laporte. "We put our heart and soul into this competition and game.
"We are a great rugby nation, and the players can hold their heads up high. It stops tonight but I don't think it was a bad World Cup by us."
With just over 10 minutes to go France led 9-8 and they came desperately close to extending their lead through winger Vincent Clerc.
A superb tap tackle from Joe Worsley just halted the Toulouse flyer and when he passed to Sebastien Chabal it took a posse of England tacklers to bring the Sale man down inches from the line.
You have to recognise the cool of Wilkinson - in these important moments he is a great player
France captain Raphael Ibanez
"That was our chance," added Laporte, who will now take up a role as a sports minister in the French government.
"If we had scored that try we would have won the match, but we didn't.
"Semi-finals always come down to little things. That one came down to nothing.
"The England team were strong but we expected this kind of match.
"They occupied a lot of territory but we were not able to do that. We were not able to make the break and not able to score.
"It was difficult to get back into match when we went behind at the end. We weren't in their 22 enough but it was two teams who were pretty equal throughout. It was that kind of match."
France captain Raphael Ibanez was distraught after seeing England end his team's World Cup hopes at the semi-final stage for the second time in a row.
England deserved to win and they took their chances when it mattered
France captain Raphael Ibanez
"It is difficult to find the words to express my disappointment," he said.
"We thought this would be the match, but it was difficult in the end and the result did not go in our favour.
"We will need a few days to digest this. But this is sport - it goes one way or the other.
"England deserved to win and they took their chances when it mattered."
Ibanez, who plays in England for Heineken Cup champions Wasps, paid tribute to Wilkinson after the fly-half once again proved to be England's match-winner.
Wilkinson missed his first two attempts at goal and a first-half drop-goal but produced the goods when it really mattered in the final few minutes.
"You have to recognise the cool of Wilkinson. In these important moments, he is a great player, that's all you can say," said Ibanez.
"But I don't want to talk about England. We wish them good luck but personally I would like to talk about our courage in this competition.
"The Argentina defeat (in the tournament's opening match) was difficult to take, but we have to hold our heads up that we could come back.
"I want to emphasise the team spirit and thank the coach for his efforts."