Three late tries spared France's blushes as they secured a bonus-point World Cup win over the United States in Fukuoka City.
Les Bleus were in trouble when USA fly-half AJ MacGinty kicked a third penalty on 64 minutes to trim their lead to 12-9 but three converted tries in the last 14 minutes helped them to a flattering 33-9 victory which keeps them in touch with Pool C leaders England.
France coach Jacques Brunel made 12 changes to the team that began the tournament with a 23-21 win over Argentina and for an hour they looked a disjointed outfit.
Led for the first time by veteran number eight Louis Picamoles on his 81st appearance, the French made the best possible start when fly-half Camille Lopez chipped over the States defence for winger Yoann Huget to open the scoring.
Full-back Thomas Ramos added the conversion to make it 7-0 but Sale Sharks favourite MacGinty's penalty goal kept the minnows in touch.
Another precision kick from Lopez, this time lofted to the corner, enabled right winger Alivereti Raka to score a well-executed try that extended France's lead to 12-3 but that only served to harden the resolve of the gutsy USA team, who rallied superbly following their 45-7 defeat by England.
Another MacGinty penalty as France continued to lose their discipline made it 12-6 at the break and Brunel's men missed a glorious chance nine minutes into the second half when Raka was denied a second try for a forward pass by centre Sofiane Guitoune.
The crowd sensed a major shock when MacGinty kicked a third penalty to cut the deficit to just three points but France could breathe more easily on 66 minutes when centre Gael Fickou, one of just four players to keep their places from the opening game, sliced through for a much-needed try.
Lopez's conversion made it 19-9 and France cut loose in the last 10 minutes with two further tries from their replacements.
Scrum-half Baptiste Serin finished off a break by Raka and prop Jefferson Poirot forced his way over from a driving maul, with Lopez adding both conversions.
In the end it was mission accomplished but Brunel will be looking for an improvement when his side take on Tonga on Sunday before meeting Eddie Jones' men on Saturday week for a clash that could determine the group winners.
France v USA - Match Stats
France: (12) 33
Try: Huget (6'), Raka (24'), Fickou (67'), Serin (70'), Poirot (79')
Conversion: Ramos (8'), Lopez (68', 71', 81')
USA: (6) 9
Penalty: MacGinty (19', 31', 65')
Man of the match: Camille Lopez (France)