The Irish let a 17-8 half-time lead slip but their three tries to France’s two meant their highest ever finish in this competition.
Ireland raced into a 7-0 lead after Lynne Cantwell scythed through the middle to touch down after just six minutes. Grace Davitt converted.
Céline Allainmat brought her team back into it with an unconverted try but Ireland pushed ahead again when full-back Niamh Briggs won a chase to crash over.
Veteran French out-half Estelle Sartini knocked over a penalty to reduce the deficit to 12-8 before winger Helen Brosnan, making her first start in green, punished a French mistake close to the line to score her first try for her country.
French lock Mélanie Gauffinet dotted down after half-time before wing Jeannette Feighery pushed her team’s lead out to 22-15.
It looked as if Ireland would secure a first ever win over France but in the 80th minute the French pack forced their way over the line for a try which was converted to ensure the sides finished level.
IRELAND team and replacements: N Briggs (Clonmel), J Feighery, L Cantwell (both UL Bohemians); G Davitt (Boyne), H Brosnan (Highfield), J O’Sullivan (Richmond), L Beamish, F Coghlan, G Bourke (all UL Bohs), E McManamly (Blackrock), K O’Loughlin (Clonmel), O Brennan (Blackrock), L Austin (Blackrock), C Staunton (St Mary’s). S Houston for Davitt, 36; J Limbert for McManamly, 40; S Ryan for Staunton, 40; G Healy for Austin, 55; T Rosser for Beamish, 63; C Mahon for O’Loughlin, 73; M Barrett for Bourke, 76.