France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili gave England a lesson in goalkicking as he booted Les Bleus to an RBS 6 Nations victory at Twickenham.
Yachvili, who had scored 19 points in the corresponding fixture last season to secure France the Grand Slam, landed four second-half penalties as Andy Robinson's side blew an 11-point lead.
Tries from Olly Barkley and Josh Lewsey had earned England a 17-6 half-time lead but six missed penalties - three each from Charlie Hodgson and Olly Barkley - cost England a possible 18 points and the chance of victory.
Hodgson, always inevitably compared to the injured Jonny Wilkinson, missed a drop-goal from in front of the posts with three minutes remaining - just the sort of kick Wilkinson might have lapped up.
For England it was the first time since 1987 they have lost three consecutive championship matches and they now face the imposing task of chasing their first win of the year against favourites Ireland in Dublin later this month.
England moved ahead after 18 minutes when Jamie Noon ran a magnificent angle onto Hodgson's pass and sent Barkley away for his first Test try.
Hodgson converted and then, after man of the match Yachvili struck a post, extended England's lead with a simple penalty.
Yachvili pulled one back, but when Danny Grewcock offloaded from a tackle to Lewsey three minutes before the interval, the Wasps winger handed-off the flailing Sebastien Bruno and sprinted over for his 20th Test try.
Hodgson converted but then Barkley took over the kicking responsibilities from Hodgson and missed with two long-range efforts just before the interval.
Yachvili then booted France into a narrow lead as England were punished repeatedly by referee Paddy O'Brien as both Hodgson and Barkley missed penalty attempts.
England pressed to the end but could create little and even when Hodgson was presented with a drop goal opportunity in front of the posts, he sent it wide and France had won at Twickenham for the first time since 1997.
After Ireland's heroic big-game hunt of the Springboks and Scotland's six-try runaround of the Pumas, the challenge of engineering the most spectacular win of the autumn series now falls on Wales, writes Peter Jackson.