England scored seven tries in beating France 55-35 in a phenomenal contest at Twickenham, but fell agonisingly short of winning the Six Nations as Ireland retained their title.
Stuart Lancaster's fourth Six Nations as head coach finished with England second for a fourth time after the hosts fell six short in their bid to overturn a pre-match 26-point deficit to Ireland.
Sensational displays from half-backs Ben Youngs and George Ford - with two tries and 25 points, respectively - plus tries from Jack Nowell (two), Anthony Watson and Billy Vunipola earned England a record win over Les Blues.
Sebastien Tillous-Borde, Noa Nakaitaci, Maxime Mermoz, Vincent Debaty and Benjamin Kayser scored tries for France, who showed their best and worst sides at Twickenham.
England needed to beat France by a 26-point margin at Twickenham to deny Ireland a second successive Six Nations championship.
England could finish first or fourth depending on their result in Le Crunch after Wales won in Rome and Ireland beat Scotland earlier in the day to take over top spot.
Lancaster made one change, with Geoff Parling starting in the second row in place of Dave Attwood.
Fly-half Jules Plisson and loosehead prop Vincent Debaty came in for Les Bleus, who beat Italy 29-0 last weekend.
Only once in the post-war period have England beaten France by the required margin in a competitive match. That was the April 2001 Six Nations clash at Twickenham, when England won 48-19. England did beat France 45-14 in August 2003 in a Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture.
The Twickenham warm-up included a rendition of 'the Great Escape' by the marching band.
England swiftly set about reducing the points deficit as Jonathan Joseph picked up a loose French pass and fed Mike Brown, who in turn found George Ford.
Ford cut inside but, rather than go for glory himself, had the presence of mind to pass inside for Ben Youngs to touch down. Ford converted.
England's scrum earned a penalty near halfway, but Ford's kick at goal was wide, before Plisson slotted an effort for France's first points.
Joe Marler put Les Bleus under pressure in charging down an attempted clearance by Plisson.
But England could not capitalise, Courtney Lawes fumbling a poor Youngs pass, and Sebastien Tillous-Borde scorched down the left wing, outpacing England tighthead prop Dan Cole, to score. Plisson missed the conversion attempt.
A James Haskell drop allowed Scott Spedding to show his class. He chipped and chased, collecting the ball in a show of Gallic flair.
The ball was quickly spread from right to left and Noa Nakaitaci ran in to score, but the decision went to the television match official as the wing tried to take the ball nearer the posts.
The official ruled that, under pressure from Youngs, Nakaitaci grounded the ball just before stepping beyond the dead ball line. Plisson converted to make it 15-7 to France after the first quarter of the contest.
Plisson missed another shot at goal before the fly-half was caught by Lawes, sparking a scuffle off the ball involving Bernard Le Roux and Loann Goujon.
Lawes avoided punishment for the hit, which was deemed fair.
Ford kicked a penalty after France were penalised at the scrum.
Cole conceded a penalty, giving Plisson another opportunity which the fly-half missed once more.
Youngs surged down the right and fed Ford, who was tackled.
Haskell then fed Anthony Watson to score in the corner. Ford kicked the conversion to put England in front.
England took a quick lineout near their own line and Joseph burst close to the length of the field before kicking on.
Youngs then darted through to score under the posts and Ford converted.
Joseph was impeded by Maxime Mermoz in trying to retrieve a kick and Ford kicked for goal with the final act of the first half. Ford's kick was successful to extend England's advantage.
France made England's task even more difficult within moments of the restart.
Les Bleus took the ball deep into enemy territory before hooker Guilhem Guirado's sleight of hand out of a Joseph tackle allowed Mermoz to score under the posts.
Youngs then brilliantly slid round a ruck, ran into the France 22 and passed inside for the supporting Ford to score. The fly-half added the conversion to make it 34-22.
Replacement Rory Kockott assumed kicking duties for France and slotted over a penalty off the posts.
Spedding conceded a turnover from the restart and England capitalised.
Youngs fed Ford whose quick hands freed Jack Nowell to cross in the left corner.
Ford kicked the conversion for a 41-25 lead. England needed to improve their points cushion by 10 more to claim the title.
However, the suffered a blow when Haskell recklessly tripped Plisson and was sin-binned after 57 minutes.
Shorthanded in Haskell's absence, England conceded again.
Nakaitaci burst down the left and had support from Debaty, who crossed in the corner. The conversion attempt by Kockott was missed.
England turned to their bench, with Danny Cipriani among those introduced.
The hosts pressured France's line and Billy Vunipola crashed over. Ford converted as England equalled their record points total against France.
Les Bleus rumbled on from the restart, though, and replacement Benjamin Kayser touched down. Kockott's conversion attempt was missed.
It meant England needed two unanswered converted tries to deny Ireland the trophy.
Ford fed Nowell, who bisected the French defence for his second try, to leave England requiring seven more points in the final four minutes.
Ford kicked for the corner after a collapsed scrum, giving England an attacking lineout in the dying seconds, but the hosts were denied.