A pitch inspection shortly before 7.30pm local time had passed the pitch fit, but between then and kick off the ground continued to harden.
Though some areas of the pitch were soft, much of it - particularly the touchlines - had been frozen solid as temperatures fell as low as -10.
"The referee has declared the pitch unplayable, it's dangerous," a Six Nations representative told the Stade de France crowd 10 minutes after the game had been due to kickoff.
The announcement triggered a chorus of boos when it was made at 2010 GMT although the temperature was well below zero.
"The pitch was unsafe for the players and the protocol is the referee has to make a decision," Ireland coach Declan Kidney told the BBC.
"In fairness to him he's made the right one."
France captain Thierry Dusautoir made an appearance on the field to address the crowd, saying: "Thank you for coming and supporting us. I hope you will come in numbers to support us next time".
The Stade de France, built for the 1998 football World Cup, has no under-soil heating.
Under Six Nations rules the match will be rescheduled. It is just the second Six Nations match to be postponed since 1952.
No rescheduled date has yet been agreed.