Richie McCaw paid tribute to his New Zealand teammates as they raised their game to comfortably brush aside France in Pool A.
France had won their two previous Rugby World Cup encounters in 1999 and 2007, but they were denied a hat-trick of successes as New Zealand came out on top 37-17, scoring five tries in the process, of which three came in the first 19 minutes.
"We realised we had to take a step up this week," McCaw said.
"Against the French, obviously from history, we knew they would be a good team. We had to absorb a fair bit early on but I was proud of the way the boys kept at it, and when we got our opportunity we put points on the board.
"In big Test matches that's what you've got to do, so very happy."
A disappointed Marc Lievremont, the French coach, lamented his side's slow start out of the blocks for wrecking their hopes.
"I have a feeling of great regret, notably about the first half when we conceded three tries in 15 minutes he said.
"After starting well, but with no points on board, we let the All Blacks dictate the match. We made schoolboy errors."
In yesterday's other action, England maintained their 100 per cent record as they swept past Romania's challenge with a resounding 67-3 win in Pool B.