The Emerald Isle are currently third in the table, two points below leaders Wales, and they will have to beat Warren Gatland’s side and hope that England fail to win against Scotland for them to defend their championship.
Joe Schmidt’s men prepared well for their gargantuan contest next week, however. They combined physicality with some nice touches with ball in hand against Les Bleus to score three tries and go into the break 19-0 in front.
Rory Best, Johnny Sexton and replacement Jack Conan all touched down as they effectively ended the game as a contest in the opening 40 minutes.
Keith Earls then sealed the bonus-point in the third quarter to secure the win and complete a miserable day for the French, despite Yoann Huget’s and Camille Chat’s late consolation efforts.
It was another abysmal display from Les Bleus as a slack defence made it all too easy for the hosts to get over the gain line. CJ Stander and Tadhg Furlong needed no invitation and the visitors were consistently sent into reverse.
Those facets were all in evidence with the opening try when they set up a maul and powered towards the whitewash. The result was inevitable and Best splintered off to touch down for an early 7-0 advantage.
The hosts were impressive but no one was taking responsibility for France. Antoine Dupont, so spritely and confident against Scotland, was indecisive and his lack of control almost cost them a try, only for Cian Healy to let them off with a knock on.