Olivier Elima was the four-try hero as favourites France came from behind to beat Ireland 58-24 in the first Alitalia European Cup clash.
The skipper led from the front in the 10-try rout in Avignon, although the Irish threatened to pull off a shock victory when Batley forward Sean Hesketh gave them the lead with a ninth-minute try.
Team-mates John Gillam and debutant Jamie O'Callaghan added others before half-time, but the Irish still trailed 24-14 by the interval.
Second rower Elima, who will be playing for Bradford in 2011, scored his first try on 26 minutes, to add to other first-half efforts from Remi Casty, Teddy Sadaoui and Cyril Stacul for the hosts.
Elima scored his second try on 55 minutes and Tony Gigot, Andrew Bentley and debutant Jason Baitieri also touched down before the skipper completed his hat-trick four minutes from the end and added a fourth for good measure two minutes later.
Scrum half Maxime Greseque kicked four goals and substitute Nicolas Munoz five.
Ireland paid the price for their inability to control the ball in the second half but Gillam added a second try on 63 minutes and Gregg McNally scored a consolation nine minutes from the end.