The deficit figure was confirmed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a radio interview. The state of France's public coffers has become a key issue in a presidential election campaign that is in its final weeks.
This means "that the commitments I made, if the French give me their trust, to be at three percent in 2012 will be held and zero percent in 2016," Sarkozy told Europe 1 radio.
French public debt continued to expand in 2011, hitting 85.8 percent of gross domestic product, higher than the 84.9 percent forecast, INSEE said.
EU nations are supposed to keep their public deficits at under 3.0 percent of GDP and their public debt at under 60 percent.