The clay indoor venue in Rouen offered no comfort for a British team without Andy Murray with injury, as they lost every rubber over the weekend.
Following single defeats to Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans on Friday, it was left to Andy’s brother – Jamie – with his partner Dominic Inglot to try and save the tie, in the doubles.
France, who haven’t won the premier team tennis competition since 2001, fielded Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau as the pairing to try to win the tie.
A tough encounter, which see both pairings have opportunities to break, finally see the French take the tie and the match with a 7-6, 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 victory.
It was the first defeat Britain had – had inside 2 days, since 2009, something coach – Leon Smith, who took over in 2010, is keen to avoid in future campaigns.
“A quarter-final, a win, a semi-final, a quarter-final – in decades previous you weren’t getting that” Smith told the BBC.
Britain, who defeated France at Queens Club, 2 years ago, en route to the Davis Cup success in 2015 and then made the semi-finals last season, missed Murray in this tie and in the win over Canada in the previous round, something Smith realises. “Do we lack depth? Yes, of course we lack depth – that’s pretty obvious. We’ve had a couple of ties this year, we’ve absolutely loved it, the spirit’s still really good. We just lost a tennis match, that’s it.”