France momentarily handed world champions New Zealand a scare Down Under but were ultimately unable to resist the might of the All Blacks at Eden Park.
Jacques Brunel’s side, who finished fourth in the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations, led 11-8 at the halfway point of the first Test in Auckland, owing to a fine defensive effort.
However, the hosts took full advantage of a second-half yellow card for Paul Gabrillagues and ran in seven second-half tries as France were beaten 52-11.
With the preamble completed and the two sides having finally got to grips with each other, Les Bleus shocked Eden Park into silence with just seven minutes on the clock.
After an enterprising foray forward from Teddy Thomas had hauled France upfield, the All Blacks set about mopping up the danger but, having won back possession, Ben Smith inadvertently coughed up the ball to an alert Remy Grosso, who streaked away unchallenged to gleefully dot down.
The hosts got themselves on the scoreboard through a Beauden Barrett penalty but with 20 minutes gone, Morgan Parra booted through the posts himself to restore France’s five-point lead.
That advantage would not last long, however, as the All Blacks grabbed their first try of the game with a mesmerising team move, which ended with Jordie Barrett and Ryan Crotty combining to send Beauden Barrett over out wide.
But, having withstood a New Zealand onslaught late in the first half, Les Bleus would lead by three points at the break courtesy of the boot of Parra.
Gabrillagues’ yellow card 11 minutes into the second period proved decisive as the All Blacks took full advantage of the extra man and put France through the wringer.
In a flash, Codie Taylor went over and shortly afterwards, they were celebrating their third try of the game after Crotty and Taylor combined to devastating effect down France’s left flank to set up a Smith score, Beauden Barrett adding the extras both times to make it 25-11.
Before the visitors were able to return to a full compliment, New Zealand found a way over again, Aaron Smith switching the ball out to an unmarked Rieko Ioane from behind the scrum.
The All Blacks continued to press the issue home, replacements Damian McKenzie and Ngani Laumape announcing themselves to devastating effect.
With five minutes to go, Ioane picked off an interception and raced 90 metres to bag his second and the hosts’ seventh try of the game, despite an heroic chase by Les Bleus’ counterpart Thomas.
At the death, Ardie Savea bundled his way over and Beauden Barrett converted.
France lock horns with the All Blacks again in the second Test in Wellington on June 16.