Anders Hansen of Denmark shot a 5-under 66 to lead by a stroke after the first round of the French Open on a golf course that punished some of the main contenders on Thursday.
Hansen made seven birdies and two bogeys on the Albatross course of Le Golf National, which will host the Ryder Cup in 2018.
Hansen finished fourth at the French Open in 2009 and his best result this year was a third place at the Malaysian Open in March.
Frenchman Romain Wattel was in second place, one stroke clear of nine players who shared third place, including Martin Kaymer of Germany.
Past winners Martin Kaymer of Germany (68) and Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain (69) stayed in contention, along with 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland (69) and American golfer Matt Kuchar (70).