A basket by Edmonton's Michelle Plouffe tied the game 53-53 with just under five minutes to play but France (2-1) pulled away down the stretch for the victory. Tamara Tatham of Brampton, Ont., had 11 points and Kim Gaucher of Mission, B.C., scored 10 points for Canada (1-2), which will play the Czech Republic in the qualifying round on Wednesday.
"We've seen tremendous growth in the team over the past few days, with significant improvements in each game," said Canadian head coach Lisa Thomaidis. "As much as it hurts to lose tonight against France like that, the game that counts is the one tomorrow against the Czech Republic.
"That is where it's time to put it all together."
The United States, Australia, Spain and Turkey all won their groups and earned byes to the quarterfinals, which begin Friday. Those four teams went unbeaten in pool play and await the winners of the qualifying round games that take place on Wednesday.
Australia will play the winner of the Canada-Czech game. France will play Brazil with the victor playing the U.S., Spain will play the winner of the Belarus-China game while Serbia faces Cuba with the host nation waiting in the next round.
Japan, Angola, Mozambique and Korea were all eliminated after going winless in pool play.
The Americans, who beat France to win Olympic gold two years ago, closed out the preliminary round in blowout fashion. Nneka Ogwumike scored 18 points to lead the United States (3-0) to a record 119-44 rout of Angola.
The Americans scored the game's first 12 points. By the time Angola (0-3) had its second basket with 3:36 left in the quarter, the lead had ballooned to 24-6 and the rout was on.
The U.S. led 33-11 after one quarter and Maya Moore's three-point play just before the half made it 61-25 as the Americans put on an offensive clinic, shooting 70 per cent at the break.
The lead kept growing in the second half and the U.S. broke the team record for margin of victory, surpassing the 70-point win over Senegal in 1990.
Point guard Sue Bird set her own mark, playing in a U.S.-record 28th world championship game, breaking a tie with Tamika Catchings, Katie Smith and Delisha Milton-Jones. Bird is playing in a team-record fourth worlds.
African teams are still looking for their first win in a preliminary round game of the world championship. All their wins have come in the classification rounds without a chance for a medal at stake.
In other games Tuesday, Serbia edged China 65-63, Australia routed Belarus 87-45 while Cuba beat Korea 73-57. Spain topped the Czech Republic 67-43, Brazil beat Japan 79-56 and Turkey topped Mozambique 64-54.
The Canadian women are making their third consecutive world championship appearance.
With files from The Associated Press.