Gael Monfils beat Switzerland's Roger Federer to draw France level at 1-1 in the Davis Cup final in Lille.
Federer, who pulled out of Sunday's ATP World Tour final, was beaten 6-1 6-4 6-3 in front of a Davis Cup record 27,432 fans at the indoor clay court.
Stan Wawrinka beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-2 in the opening singles rubber to give Switzerland a 1-0 lead.
The best-of-five contest features a doubles match on Saturday before the reverse singles on Sunday.
The doubles match pits the hosts' Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet against Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer.
France have not won the Cup since 2001, while Switzerland have never won it.
However, the Swiss made the perfect start with Wawrinka winning 25 points at the net and sealing victory with a volley on his first match point.