The Tigers fought back from 8-0 down to get a bonus point 33-20 win in front of a 20,286 crowd at Welford Road.
Leicester made virtually all the running in a scrappy first half and turned round 12-8 up after fighting back, scoring two tries to one.
They dominated Stade Francais at scrum time but unforced errors cost them potential scoring opportunities.
Centre Peter Betham did get over the line in the 15th minute but the TMO ruled out the try for obstruction .
Stade lost former Tigers scrum-half Julien Dupuy with a leg injury moments later but it was his replacement Thomas who silenced the crowd with a try in the 22nd minute.
Stade had already shown their ambition when winger Arias countered from his own line, starting a brilliant move, involving Hugo Bonneval and Herman Meyer Bosman, before Thomas scampered over for a try which Morne Steyn failed to convert.
The South Africa fly-half made amends six minutes later when he kicked a monster penalty from just inside his own half. Leicester, however, then found their scoring touch, grabbing two tries in the last seven minutes.
Winger Goneva was put over by Lachlan McCaffrey after Leicester turned the ball over, with Williams adding the conversion.
And then, on the verge of half-time, Goneva provided the scoring pass for Leicester veteran centre Smith after the Tigers had laid siege to the Stade line. Williams missed the conversion but Leicester made it 17-8 in the first minute of the second half after another error by Stade’s Italy No8 Sergio Parisse.
The Stade captain dropped a clearance and O’Connor galloped over from halfway, the TMO adjudicating that Tigers winger Adam Thompstone had not obstructed Paul Williams. Williams made it 20-8 with a 47th-minute penalty but Stade hit back with a brilliant try by Paul Williams, converted by Steyn, in the 52th minute.
A 55th-minute solo try by Youngs, converted by Williams, earned Leicester a bonus point and Williams put the Tigers 16 points ahead with a 72nd-minute penalty.
Arias scored a 75th-minute try for Stade, the TMO awarding it after much deliberation. Replacement Seremaia Bai kicked a last-minute penalty for Leicester.
Tries: Goneva, Smith, O’Connor, B. Youngs. Cons: O. Williams 2. Pens: O. Williams 2, Bai.
Tait, Thompstone, Betham, Smith, Goneva, O. Williams, B. Youngs, Ayerza, T. Youngs, Cole, Barrow, Fitzgerald, M. Williams, O’Connor, McCaffrey.
Veainu for Thompstone (69), Bai for O. Williams (76), Harrison for B. Youngs (60), Aguero for Ayerza (69), Crane for O’Connor (65).
Tries: Tomas, Williams, Arias. Cons: Steyn. Pens: Steyn.
Bonneval, Arias, Williams, M. Bosman, Sinzelle, Steyn, Dupuy, Taulafo, Panis, Oleon, Gabrillagues, Pape, Sio, Nicolas, Parisse.
Raisuge for Arias (72), Nayacalevu for M. Bosman (61), Tomas for Dupuy (16), Zhvania for Panis (67), Slimani for Oleon (41), Flanquart for Pape (57), Ross for Sio (63), Priso for Nicolas (69). Att: 23,467 Referee: John Lacey (Ireland).
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