The two sides finished tied at 2-2 after a hotly contested 80 minutes, with Kenny Swain's side twice coming back from a goal down.
France 2-2 England U16
England win 5-3 on pens
21 April 2014
And it was England – the five-times champions in western France – who prevailed as the match went straight to penalties, winning the shoot-out 5-3.
Earlier France had taken the lead after 21 minutes, although West Ham United striker Jahmal Hector-Ingram levelled on 33 minutes.
France made it 2-1 only seconds after the break, but Everton midfielder Tom Davies pegged them back with a 51st minute strike, and Liverpool's Adam Phillips came close to winning it in normal time when he crashed a free-kick against the crossbar.
The victory completes a positive turnaround for the Young Lions, who lost their opening match against Saudi Arabia 2-0.
But the revival began with a 1-1 draw with South Korea in Mareuil sur Lay and an eye-catching 1-0 win over Portugal in Chateau d'Olonne set up Monday's meeting with France.
The Ivory Coast take on South Korea for the overall tournament title, kicking off at 4.30pm BST on Monday afternoon.
England Under-16s (4-2-3-1): 1 Alfie Whiteman (Tottenham); 16 Ro-Shaun Williams (Manchester United), 5 Cameron Humphreys (Manchester City), 12 Easah Suliman (capt, Aston Villa), 18 Layton Ndukwu (Leicester City); 15 Foday Nabay (Fulham), 4 Tom Davies (Everton); 17 Zak Dearnley (Manchester United), 10 Jacob Maddox (Chelsea), 7 Charlie Wakefield (Chelsea); 9 Jahmal Hector-Ingram (West Ham United).
Substitutes: 2 Danny Collinge (MK Dons) on for Williams 41; 8 Adam Phillips (Liverpool) for Humphreys 41; 11 Yan Dhanda (Liverpool) on for Hector-Ingram 45; 14 Nathan Holland (Everton) on for Wakefield 55; 6 Will Patching (Manchester City) on for Maddox 59.
Substitutes not used: 13 Aston Oxborough (Norwich City), 3 Hayden Coulson (Middlesbrough).
Goalscorers: Hector-Ingram 33, Davies 51.