Jack Brabham's excellent form continued at Reims with another victory, his third in succession, as British cars claimed the first eight places. Not since 1923 when Henry Seagrave won in a Sunbeam had a British-made car won at a French Grand Prix.
Graham Hill's BRM, which had qualified third, failed to start due to a jammed gearbox and was promptly slammed into from behind by Maurice Trintignant's Cooper. Hill's car was so badly damaged that it could not continue and Trintignant only managed three laps before also retiring.
Meanwhile, the tussle for the lead between Brabham in his Cooper and the Ferraris of Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips was keeping the large crowd entertained. Having not won a race all season, the Ferrari team was convinced that the high-speed Reims circuit would give them their best chance.
For the first 20 laps, Hill and Brabham fought a spectacular battle, often racing side by side past the grandstand at over 150mph. The lap record was broken again and again as the two drivers refused to give ground, until Hill was forced to retire after hitting the straw bales and twisting his front axle.
Von Trips took up the challenge for Ferrari, but he too had to retire a couple of laps later due to transmission problems. With Brabham so far ahead, attention switched to the fight for second place, where former Ferrari test driver Olivier Gendebien, now driving a Cooper, was up against Bruce McLaren, also in a Cooper Climax.
McLaren was consistently quicker on the long straight down to the Thillois corner, but lost ground to Gendebien as the Belgian either braked later or accelerated faster after the corner. Towards the end of the race, McLaren got caught up with some slower cars and Gendebien went ahead to finish in a career-best second.
The result meant Brabham had drawn level with McLaren in the drivers' championship, both on 24 points, with Stirling Moss, who missed the race as a result of injuries sustained at Spa, a distant third, 13 points adrift.