Roy Hodgson's men begin their European Championship campaign on Monday, meeting Les Blues in the first Group D match in Donetsk.
And Defoe admits England are facing a difficult test against a French side who are unbeaten in 21 games but feels that a good result could provide confidence.
|THREE LIONS ON THEIR CHEST
|7.00||England are 7.00 with bet365 to beat France 1-0|
"It's going to be a tough game," the Tottenham forward told the club's official website.
"France are a great footballing nation, they've got great players. But I don't think it's a bad thing playing such a tough team in our first game.
"I think if you win a difficult game like that, it brings confidence to the camp going into the next game.
"It's important at a tournament to get off to good start. I think that if we can do that, it will help hugely with the following matches."
Despite their recent failings in international competition, the 29-year-old insists Laurent Blanc’s side are contenders to win the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
He added: "Of late France haven't done too well at tournaments, but I think they are dark horses at Euro 2012.”