The Wasps flanker sustained a knee injury during their Challenge Cup defeat to Bordeaux-Begles a week ago and he has not recovered in time for the clash with Les Bleus.
But it is hoped the 28-year-old, who was named in Eddie Jones’ 34-man squad, will be fit in time for the Calcutta Cup match with Scotland the following weekend in Round 2.
Launchbury was part of England’s World Cup squad in Japan but only made one appearance against the USA – although he is an experienced international with 62 caps to his name.
He has also been a regular for his country in the Championship over the years, making 27 appearances – including 22 starts – for the Red Rose over the last six years.
His know-how could prove key in this year’s Guinness Six Nations in an England squad which includes eight uncapped players as they look to wrestle back the trophy from Wales.
Eddie Jones and his men have been in a training camp in Portugal, where they have had a World Cup debrief overseen by team psychologist Andrea Furst.
England reached the final in Japan with a 19-7 win over defending champions New Zealand before falling at the final hurdle, losing 32-12 to South Africa.
Bath flanker Sam Underhill said the players needed to “unpack anything that might be there” from the final before turning their attention to regaining the Guinness Six Nations title.