Ireland's World Cup campaign was left hanging by a thread as Vincent Clerc's brace of tries helped France to a vital 25-3 Pool D win in Paris.
Four Jean-Baptiste Elissalde penalties had put Les Bleus 12-3 ahead by the break, with Ronan O'Gara's drop-goal Ireland's only riposte.
Clerc's double came in the second half, the winger going over twice in the space of 11 minutes in the right corner to breath new life into the hosts' World Cup challenge.
Elissalde added another penalty after the break to give him a 15-point haul, with the result allowing the French to leapfrog the disappointing Irish in the group table with one game apiece left.
Elissalde missed a penalty attempt soon after, but the night was going from bad to worse for the Irish.
In the 63rd minute, O'Connell was yellow-carded for another cynical infringement in a ruck and the task now appeared beyond their reach.
That was confirmed when Clerc grabbed his second try, running on to a deft Elissalde chip to catch, swivel and ground, despite the best efforts of Trimble.
The try needed the say-so by upstairs but the evidence was undeniable, although Elissalde missed the conversion out wide.
The rudderless Irish continued to be pinned back in their own half, with the French defence dominant.
In a rare Ireland foray upfield, Traille was yellow-carded but it mattered little as France sauntered to a much-needed and ultimately deserved victory.