A 65- year old man who came to France from a trip to Dubai has been diagnosed with the deadly novel coronavirus, and is in intensive care in a hospital in the northern city of Douai, the health ministry said.
"This is the first and only confirmed case in France to date," it added.
The unnamed patient, who was in Dubai from April 9 to 17, has been placed in isolation and is being given respiratory assistance and blood transfusions.
The virus, known as nCoV-EMC, is a cousin of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which triggered a scare 10 years ago when it erupted in east Asia, leaping to humans from animal hosts and killing some 800 people.
The virus was first detected in September 2012 and since then more than 30 cases have been reported in different countries, with 18 deaths.
While it has been deadliest in Saudi Arabia, where 11 people have been killed by the virus, other cases have been reported in Jordan, Germany, Britain and now France.
According to the ministry, most of those affected had "spent time, before the symptoms appeared, in one of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula or in neighbouring countries."
Like SARS, the new virus appears to cause an infection deep in the lungs, with patients suffering from a temperature, cough and breathing difficulty, but it differs from SARS in that it also causes rapid kidney failure.
The World Health Organisation does not so far have enough information to determine how the virus is transmitted or from where it originates, but it has called for international vigilance.
According to the French health ministry, it looks like it may be transmitted between humans but does not appear to be very contagious. French authorities are looking for anyone who may have had contact with the patient.