With Ireland heading to Paris for a mouth-watering clash next Saturday, France began their bid for a first Six Nations title since 2010 with a 37-10 bonus-point win over Italy at a rain-soaked Stade de France, as winger Gabin Villiere ran in a hat-trick.

The visiting Azzurri, looking for a first Championship win since 2015 and their first ever victory in Paris, took a surprise lead when teenage debutant Tommaso Menoncello gathered a kick to finish in the corner.

France struck back with Anthony Jelonch and Villiere tries to take an eight-point lead into halftime.

Villiere weaved a path through the Italian defence to cross again after the break before Damian Penaud added the bonus-point score, and Villiere dived over for his third with the clock in the red. His hat-trick of tries was the first for a France player in the tournament since Vincent Clerc's against Ireland in 2008.

Ireland are level with the French on five points at the top of the Six Nations table after the opening round, ahead of the sides' meeting at the Stade de France next Saturday.

Italy face England in Rome on Sunday, where both sides will be looking to respond to opening-day defeats after the English lost their opener in Scotland.

"You could tell after 20 minutes we were lacking rugby together. Through the game I thought the boys did well," France team manager Raphael Ibanez told ITV at full-time.

"Five tries and five points is good. Villiere is a warrior. He is a very good finisher. He is a good example for all of his team mates for his spirit."

Of the upcoming Ireland match, Ibanez added: "For next week we have to step up in every department. Ireland are not fourth in world ranking for nothing, the game they played yesterday (against Wales) was good."

Additional reporting: Reuters