They pulled away late on, but it was far from convincing.
17-0 and cruising, France switched off for large parts of the middle third in Milton Keynes, allowing Canada reduvce the gap to just six points at one stage of the second half.
But late tries for Pascal Pape and Remy Grosso, and perfection from the boot of Frederic Michalak ensured that France would avoid a shock defeat in the pool for the third World Cup in a row.
Full-time: France 48-18 Canada
Conversions: Frederic Michalak (4), Morgan Parra (1)
Conversions: Nathan Hirayama (1)
Penalties: Nathan Hirayama (2)