Anthem: La Marseillaise (The Marseillaise)
6N History (2000-04): Usually up there, with Grand Slams in 2002 and 2004. Wobbly fifth in 2001.
Coach: Bernard Laporte. Feisty scrum-half in his playing days, Laporte has instilled new discipline to Les Tricolores since taking over in 1999, but they are still prone to inconsistency. Under pressure after hiding by All Blacks.
Captain: Fabien Pelous. Could become only the fifth member of rugby's 100-cap club during the tournament. A warrior in the Martin Johnson mould, has got better with age.
Big man: David Auradou (6ft 6in) offers quality lineout ball and has accumulated 40 caps since 1999. But he faces competition from Jerome Thion (6ft 5in) and the relatively diminutive Pascal Pape (6ft 4in) as Pelous' partner.
Brains and brawn: The French team are big on chess tournaments when they are together in camp, in which centre Yannick Jauzion, a graduate in engineering, is usually the one shouting 'échec et mat!' ('check-mate').
Bad hair day: Toulouse wing Cedric Heymans would not need a straw boater for the Henley Regatta, but team manager Jo Maso takes the honours in the bouffon stakes.
Southern intruders: Kiwi centre Tony Marsh is as popular in Clermont Ferrand as Michelin tyres, while South African duo Pieter de Villiers and Brian Liebenberg like boeuf bourgignon as much as biltong these days.
Enforcer: Serge Betsen. 'Aggressive defence' doesn't do justice to the Cameroon-born blindside, the scourge of fly-halves - ask Jonny Wilkinson. Phenomenal athlete.
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Bogey fixture: Only won once at Twickenham (in 1997) on their last nine visits. Also lost on last two trips to Dublin.
Prospects: The Grand Slam champions are in introspective mode again after the autumn Tests, and will do well to repeat last year's feat. May struggle to finish in the top two.
Odds to win title: 13-8