France saw a feeble 1.1 percent growth last year, according to national statistics institute Insee.
The figure is another blow to the Socialist government, which had predicted 1.4 percent growth.
But growth did speed up in the last quarter, rising 0.4 percent compared to 0.2 percent in the previous quarter.
Economy Minister Michel Sapin chose to put a postive spin on the figures.
"For the second year running economic activity will have been dynamic and made it possible to reduce unemployment, while also cutting the public deficit," he said in a statement.
Unemployment did indeed fall in 2016, for the first time since 2007, leaving 3.47 million people jobless in metropolitan France.
Other economic statistics also showed some improvement:
Household spending, a motor for growth, rose 1.8 percent, after rising 1.5 percent in 2015;
Business investment rose 4.3 percent, twice as much as in 2015;
Investment in real estate rose for the first time since 2008;
Exports, however, slowed, rising just 0.9 percent, compared to 6.0 percent in 2015.
France's exports were hit by a sharp slowdown in world trade, starting in developing economis such as China and India and feeding into developed economies.
But they also suffered from planemaker Airbus's problems with late delivery from suppliers and exceptional storms and floods that hit agriculture badly.
The statisticians predict that growth will continue in 2017, with 0.3 percent growth in the first quarter and 0.4 percent in the second.