Goals from Florent Malouda, Loic Remy and substitute Anthony Reveillere meant the French go into the final group fixture with a one-point advantage - but also with memories of plenty of previous last-gasp qualifying disappointments.
In the other Group D fixture, Romania saw their slim play-off hopes disappear in a disappointing 2-2 draw with Belarus in Bucharest.
Portugal and Denmark will play off for qualification from Group H in Copenhagen next Tuesday night after the former beat Iceland 5-3 in Porto.
The home side were coasting at 3-0 thanks to an early double from Nani and a third from Helder Postiga, but Aron Gunnarsson and Hallgrimur Jonasson scored in the second half to reduce the deficit. Late strikes from Joao Moutinho and Eliseu finally secured victory, before Birkir Bjarnason's injury-time penalty.
Portugal will go to the Danish capital knowing a draw will be enough but the Denmark will be brimming with confidence after a 4-1 win in Cyprus, in which veteran winger Dennis Rommedahl scored twice.
Late goals from Georgios Samaras and Theofanis Gekas helped Greece regain control of UEFA European Championship Qualifying Group F with a tense 2-0 win over Croatia in Piraeus. The Greeks started the night knowing a win was almost essential in their penultimate match in the group, with the Croatians enjoying a one-point lead.
Samaras struck in the 71st minute and Gekas added the second eight minutes later to leave the Greeks knowing a point in their final group game in Georgia next Tuesday will be enough. Latvia beat Malta 2-0 in the other Group F game.
Timmy Simons, Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany and Vitaly Yevstigneev's late own goal gave Belgium a 4-0 lead, but in order to guarantee their play-off spot Georges Leekens' men must now win in Germany.
Turkey, who have a home game against Azerbaijan, went down to strikes from Mario Gomez and Thomas Muller. Hakan Balta pulled one back before Bastian Schweinsteiger settled matters with an 86th-minute penalty.
Belgium's win eliminated Austria, despite their 4-1 win in Azerbaijan.
Netherlands were made to work harder than expected to extend their 100% record to nine games in Group E, Klaas Jan Huntelaar scoring the only goal of the game in the 40th minute at home in a 1-0 victory against group minnows Moldova.
Sweden effectively guaranteed the runners-up slot with a 2-1 win over Finland in Helsinki, Sebastian Larsson's early strike setting the Swedes on their way and Martin Olsson adding a second before Joona Toivio's late consolation.
Spain maintained their 100% record in Group I with Juan Mata and Xabi Alonso scoring in a 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in Prague, a win that keeps Scotland's slim play-off hopes alive.
The Scots know wins from their final two matches will guarantee second place - but their last match is against Spain in Alicante. The Czechs' final game is a trip to Lithuania next week.
Branislav Ivanovic cancelled out Claudio Marchisio's early strike as Serbia secured a potentially vital point in Group C with a 1-1 draw against Italy in Belgrade.
Estonia went second as they completed their fixtures with two Konstantin Vassiljev goals giving them a 2-1 win in Northern Ireland - but a point for Serbia in their final match in Slovenia next week will be enough to earn a play-off place.
Ashley Young and Darren Bent scored early as England secured qualification from Group G, but only after opponents Montenegro had battled back to claim a 2-2 draw with Andrija Delibasic's injury-time equaliser.
Delibasic's goal, which came after Wayne Rooney was needlessly sent off, was enough for the Montenegrins to make sure of a play-off place after rivals Switzerland fell to goals from Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale in a 2-0 defeat in Wales.
Russia all but wrapped up qualification from Group B as Alan Dzagoev scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win against Slovakia in Zilina. Victory at home to Andorra on Tuesday night will secure the Russians' place in the finals.
The Republic of Ireland will fight it out with Armenia for the play-off place in Dublin after both won their penultimate matches. A draw will be good enough for Ireland, for whom Kevin Doyle and Aiden McGeady scored in a 2-0 win in Andorra, but Armenia will travel full of confidence after a thumping 4-1 home win over Macedonia.