Michel Fabrizio got Ducati's final World Superbike event as a factory outfit off to the best possible start by topping first free practice at Magny-Cours.
The Italian moved to the top of the timesheets with ten minutes of the session remaining, Fabrizio setting a further two lap times to move him clear of the competition by a comfortable two tenths.
A strong session for the series' outgoing riders, Ruben Xaus
kicked off his final event for BMW with the second fastest time, this despite suffering a fall five minutes from the chequered flag.
Cal Crutchlow, who will be MotoGP-bound after this weekend, was third for Yamaha, ahead of Jakub Smrz, Noriyuki Haga
and Lorenzo Lanzi, the latter picking up where he left off at Imola to sit atop of the timesheets for much of the session before a fall curtailed his involvement early.
James Toseland and Shane Byrne – two more riders looking for a seat in 2011 – were seventh and eighth fastest, ahead of newly crowned champion Max Biaggi
and Luca Scassa.
Elsewhere, the crocked Jonathan Rea was a confident 11th as he ventured out on track for the first time since deciding not to race at Imola, the Northern Irishman out pacing future BMW racer Leon Haslam.
Tom Sykes rode high in the top ten at one stage before dropping back to 14th, the Kawasaki rider just behind double Imola winner Carlos Checa.