France (11) 20
Try: Clerc Pens: Dupuy 4, Parra
South Africa (13) 13
Try: Smit Con: Steyn Pen: Steyn Drop: Steyn
France dug in to defeat the world champions in Toulouse
Four Julien Dupuy penalties helped France battle back to beat South Africa and extend their 12-year unbeaten home record against the world champions.
Captain John Smit's try, converted by Morne Steyn, who also added a penalty and drop-goal, put the visitors in charge by 13-11 at the break.
But they struggled against the wind in the second half and yellow cards for Steyn and Ryan Kankowski proved costly.
Morgan Parra's penalty and Vincent Clerc's try helped finish off the Boks.
The victory in Toulouse means that the Springboks have now not won in France since 1997, a run of four games.
Steyn and Dupuy traded penalties before the South Africa fly-half fired over a drop-goal to put his side ahead.
South Africa's lead became 10 points when hooker William Servat's wayward line-out throw near his own line missed Imanol Harinordoquy and fell to prop Smit, who dropped over the line for the game's opening try.
France hit back straight away, Thierry Dusautoir, Maxime Mermoz and his Yann David punching holes in the Springbok defence to allow Clerc to score in the corner.
Bryan Habana was fortunate not to be disciplined for kicking Clerc on the ground while Steyn was then sent to the sin bin on the stroke of half-time for a deliberate trip on the French wing.
Dupuy had struggled with his kicks at goal but the former Leicester scrum-half was successful with the resulting penalty to cut the deficit to two points.
Two further Dupuy penalties after the break put the hosts into a four-point lead but further Springbok indiscipline saw number eight Ryan Kankowski sin-binned for handling on the floor.
Although Parra missed the resulting penalty, he did collect three points two minutes from time to seal the win.
France play Samoa next Saturday at the Stade de France, Paris before hosting New Zealand in Marseille a week later.
South Africa meet Saracens on Tuesday before Tests with Italy and Ireland.
France coach Marc Lievremont:
"Everyone said you can't play the Boks at their own game, in the same physical way.
"But we did. We won the contest and had the extra physical edge to win the game. It's very satisfying."
South Africa coach Peter de Villiers:
"You can't play the game without the ball. They won the contest on the floor and we lost too much ball in contact. They were the strongest side."
De Villiers on the singing of their national anthem: "We were annoyed with the fact that the French disrespected our anthem.
"They didn't get somebody there who really knows it and show any respect to it. We expect people to show respect for our anthem and we expect everybody else to show the respect to the anthem of any other country."
France: Traille; Clerc, David, Mermoz, Heymans; Trinh-Duc, Dupuy; Barcella, Servat, Mas, Nallet, Millo-Chluski, Dusautoir, Harinordoquy, Picamoles.
Replacements: Chabal for David (56), Medard for Heymans (76), Parra for Dupuy (66), Marconnet for Mas (49), Szarzewski for Nallet (56), Bonnaire for Harinordoquy (57).
Not Used: Marty.
South Africa: Kirchner; Pietersen, Fourie, Jacobs, Habana; Steyn, F du Preez; Mtawarira, du Plessis, Smit, Botha, Matfield, Brussow, Burger, Kankowski.
Replacements: Olivier for Jacobs (69), Van der Linde for Mtawarira (54), Strauss for du Plessis (70), Bekker for Botha (7), Rossouw for Burger (47).
Not Used: W. du Preez, Pienaar.
Sin Bin: Steyn (40), Kankowski (68).
Ref: Wayne Barnes (RFU).