"We should follow the example of countries like Germany and Sweden, which had difficult times and carried out a lot of reforms," Tirole told a news conference in Stockholm.
"We should carry out reforms to put people back to work… and also reform the state as many countries have done."
Tirole, who won the Nobel for his research on reining in corporate giants, added: "If you don't have a viable economy, your debt grows, and so on, then at some point you have to end the providential state which in my opinion would be disastrous."
But he tempered his remarks by saying he "believed" in his country.
"I would not be in France if I didn't believe in France."
The number of unemployed in France rose to a record 3.46 million in October, according to latest official statistics.
In 2003, Tirole proposed a series of far-reaching reforms to France's job market, notably suggesting the elimination of short work contracts.
He wasn't the only one to lay into France's attempts at reform on Sunday. Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel said her neighbours across the Rhine had not done enough to put their finances in order.
"The European Commission has said in a clear manner that what is on the table to date is still insufficient. That's something that I agree with," Merkel said, according to extracts released in advance by the newspaper.
Swedish King Carl Gustav XVI will bestow this year's crop of Nobels — all except the Peace Prize — during a ceremony in Stockholm on Wednesday.