An impressive French rugby side countered the physical power of South Africa to claim a 20 to 13 win in Toulouse and remain unbeaten at home against the world champions since 1997.
Helped by a stiff wind, South Africa were leading 13-11 at halftime thanks to a soft try scored by captain and prop John Smit, with first five Morne Steyn adding the conversion, a penalty and a drop goal.
However, the Boks struggled in the second half with the breeze in their face and paid the price for having Steyn and number eight Ryan Kankowksi sin-binned.
France were determined to add the scalp of the world champions to that of New Zealand after winning there in June and did so with a try by wing Vincent Clerc, four penalties from halfback Julien Dupuy and one by his replacement Morgan Parra.
France face Samoa next weekend at the Stade de France before hosting New Zealand in Marseille a week later.
The Tri-Nations holders South Africa, whose reserve team were beaten by English club side Leicester last week, travel to Italy before playing Ireland in Dublin.