Home hopes Johann Zarco of Ducati-Pramac and Fabio Quartararo of Yamaha set the pace in the second free practice session for the French MotoGP at the Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans on Friday.
The second session took place on a dry track after Jack Miller set the fastest time in the first free practice on a wet surface earlier in the day.
Zarco was 0.095sec faster than his compatriot Quartararo, while Spaniard Maverick Vinales was 0.389sec back in third place also on a Yamaha.
"It's good to be able to be so fast already," said Zarco, a two-time Moto2 world champion who has yet to win a race in MotoGP.
"It is clear that here in France we want to do well and when we do well, it makes you feel good."
Quartararo's second-fastest time comes just 10 days after undergoing 'arm pump' surgery following problems with his right forearm which saw him slip to a 13th place finish last time out at Jerez.
"You can tell that there is something that is not normal, that I had an operation," said the Frenchman who has won two of the season's four races so far.
"I felt that the scar was pulling a little bit, a little more pain."
Spaniard Marc Marquez of Honda, the six-time world champion, was eighth at 0.885, just ahead of Italy's Valentino Rossi in ninth.
The 42-year-old Rossi, a seven-time MotoGP champion, has endured a miserable start to the season with just four points from four races.
However, the Italian is hoping to pass straight to Q2 on Saturday and potentially a more influential spot on the grid for Sunday's race.
"I am in the top 10 and also during practice I rode in a better way. I am more consistent and I have a decent pace," he said.
Reigning world champion Joan Mir of Suzuki was third quickest in the morning session but fell twice in the afternoon to finish outside the top 10.
There will be a further practice session on Saturday morning prior to qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
Top practice times:
1. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac) 1:31.747, 2. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) at 0.095, 3. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) 0.389, 4. Pol Espargaro (ESP/Honda) 0.390, 5. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Yamaha-SRT) 0.532, 6. Miguel Oliveira (POR/KTM) 0.549, 7. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) 0.614, 8. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.885, 9. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha-SRT) 0.922, 10. Takaaki Nakagami (JPN/Honda-LCR) 0.964