France was one of the seven countries to compete in the very first contest in 1956. The country's first win came in 1958, with André Claveau's "Dors, mon amour" (Sleep, my love). France is one of Eurovision's most successful countries, having won the contest five times in total. However, its last victory came in 1977, over 30 years ago, and more recent French entries in the contest have been less successful, with very few entries reaching the top 5 since the 1980s.
France has been represented at Eurovision by a total of four different broadcasting organisation: Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (RTF) was the first French broadcaster to organise the French Eurovision participation; RTF was dissolved in 1964, and was replaced by Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française (ORTF), who took over in 1965. In 1974 ORTF was also dissolved, and was replaced by seven different institutions. Télévision Française 1 took over the French Eurovision participation in 1975, and continued until 1982, when the broadcaster withdrew voluntarily from the 1982 contest. The head of entertainment at the time, Pierre Bouteiller, said, "The absence of talent and the mediocrity of the songs were where annoyance set in. [Eurovision is] a monument to inanity [sometimes translated as 'drivel']."Antenne 2 took over from TF1 in 1983, and its current incarnation, France Télévisions, has continued to organise France's Eurovision entry since.
Bruno Berberes, the head of the French delegation, stated that a "lovely surprise" was in store for the 2009 French representative, thanks to 2008's experience with Sébastien Tellier who created considerable interest among French show business for the contest. It was decided that a big name would be lined up to represent France at Eurovision in Moscow, someone with a large and popular notoriety. Since Tellier's popularity increased after his participation, Eurovision was discovered to be a great advertising campaign. For example, his Eurovision entry in 2008, "Divine", is now a part of the new advertising campaign for Renault Mégane. Moreover, the competition in France has been open to different music styles since 2007, which encouraged contacts with key national and international companies in the choice of representatives. "We need a large company to cover the costs of participation and to promote our video," says the head of the delegation.
France Télévisions confirmed on 30 January that popular French singer Patricia Kaas had agreed to represent France at the 2009 contest in Moscow. Rumours of Kaas' possible participation at Eurovision first arose in early January, after an article was published by Belgian newspaper La Meuse. The news was originally denied by Kaas' management, however, her manager later confirmed that preparations were being made between Kaas and France Télévisions for her participation. Kaas officially confirmed on France 2's talk show Vivement Dimanche, pre-recorded for broadcast on 8 February, that she would represent France at Eurovision in 2009. On 1 February, Kass revealed that "Et s'il fallait le faire", the first single from her next album Kabaret, would be the song she would compete with at Eurovision.
Kaas spent some time promoting her entry before Eurovision in France and Europe. Kaas performed her Eurovision entry at the Russian national final on 7 March, and also performed her entry on the French talent show Star Academy, as a duet with one of the contestants.
France automatically pre-qualified for the final of the contest as one of the "Big Four". France Télévisions are obliged to the second semi-final on 14 May 2009, where French viewers had the ability to vote. France performed third in the running order of the final and finished in 8th place. Although France finished in 8th place, they only received one top three vote the entire show, a 10 points from Russia. France was the only country in the top sixteen of the final to receive just one top three score.