The French still need to win their final match at home to Scotland to avoid finishing bottom of the table while the Irish were left to reflect on another disappointing result. Indeed the Irish themselves could still mathematically finish last if they are upset by Italy in their final match.
In a bruising battle played in awful conditions, the Irish played excellent rugby in the first half to go in at the break leading 13-3 but could not keep up their momentum in the second as they failed to close out the match.
Brian O'Driscoll, playing in perhaps his final home international, went off near the end of the match with an injury and France scored their try while he was off the field, but in typically gutsy fashion he returned to play the final few moments of the game.
Few would have predicted at the start of the championship that these sides would go into this battle with just one win between them and both under fire coaches made some brave team selections - not least at fly-half where the inexperienced Paddy Jackson started for Ireland and the out-of-form Frederic Michalak was selected for France.
Ireland were all over the French in the opening stages and got a deserved try after 12 minutes. It came off a line-out inside the 22, Donnacha Ryan gathered Rory Best's throw cleanly and then a maul powered to the line with captain Jamie Heaslip getting the touch down.
Jackson boosted his confidence with an excellent conversion as the home fans smelt blood early in the contest.
Jackson also managed to kick two superb penalties in the first half while at the other end Michalak converted just one of his three chances as France decided to give him the goal kicking responsibilities ahead of scrum-half Morgan Parra.
Ireland looked the better team throughout the first half. They kicked smart, their line-out was solid and France struggled to cope whenever Ireland were able to execute a driving maul. Indeed the Irish would have hoped to be more than 13-3 in front at the break.
The French body language looked poor at the start of the second half and their sizeable away support were clearly unhappy with how Steve Walsh was refereeing the game, especially the scrum, which not for the first time in this Six Nations seemed to be a bit of random mess with very few engagements developing cleanly.
However, Jackson missed the first penalty chance of the second half and France slowly edged their way back into things,
They were awarded a penalty in a tough position in the 55th minute and this time Parra took it and split the posts superbly to close the gap to 13-6.
Parra missed another chance a few minutes later but France were clearly coming into things. Ireland coach Declan Kidney made a questionable change just after the hour mark as man of the match Conor Murray was replaced at scrum-half by Eoin Reddan.
Murray was back on the pitch though when France got their try in the 72nd minute as it came soon after both O'Driscoll and Luke Marshall were forced off at the same time.
With both centres off, France took advantage after a spell of pressure in the Irish 22. They were awarded a penalty and with Ireland confused positional, Louis Picamoles tapped quickly and, helped by his team-mates, he was pushed over the line although replays did not conclusively show that he actually made it.
There was a tough conversion to come and surprise when it was Michalak who stepped up to take it, but with the match on the line, he produced a great kick to level proceedings.
Moments later Ireland could have had a penalty when Vincent Debaty appeared to push Keith Earls as he looked to challenge Picamoles for a ball kicked into the corner, but, despite the video referee looking at the incident carefully, the contact was deemed incidental and France were awarded a drop out.
At that stage both teams knew any score would probably win the game but late handling errors on both sides prevented that happening.
Reddan was also forced off on a stretcher with a worrying looking injury just before the end - and it was later confirmed he will be out for three months with a broken leg.
The draw means that France are still in danger of their first wooden spoon since 1999 and their first winless campaign since 1969, while if it proves to be O'Driscoll's final Six Nations campaign it will have to be deemed a disappointing one no matter what happens in Ireland's final game against Italy.