Former France skipper Thierry Dusautoir says despite losing to New Zealand in the 2011 final, the knockout phase of the touranment was "an exceptional adventure on a human level".
He is also tipping the All Blacks to win a third successive tournament in Japan.
Dusautoir, who was interviewed prior to the kickoff of this year's World Cup, says his worst tournament memory also involves the All Blacks - the 62-13 defeat in the 2015 quarterfinals.
Dusautoir, now 37, scored France's try in the tight 2011 final won 8-7 by New Zealand.
He captained France a record 56 times in his 80 appearances.
"We were close to being world champions," Dusautoir told AFP.
"Very few players have the chance to play a World Cup, even fewer a final.
"But what pleased me most was the three-week knock-out phase. It was an exceptional adventure on a human level."
When asked about his try in the final, the Ivory Coast player played down his efforts.
"I was just on hand to round off that period of dominance we had," he said.
"I hadn't done the hard work. I think people remind me of it because I crossed the line but it wasn't an exceptional thing: I was lucky to score because I didn't score many in my career, especially against the All Blacks!"
Dusautoir rose to fame when he made a staggering 38 tackles in the 20-18 quarter-final victory over hot favourites New Zealand in 2007.
"All records are there to be beaten. That said, it's been 12 years!" he joked, before adding: "Given the way rugby is developing, it will certainly be beaten.
"On the other hand, we hadn't touched the ball much in that game so I wouldn't really wish another team to go through that, facing up to that non-stop attack because it was hard not just physically but also on the nerves."
Quarterfinal loss to the All Balcks
Dusautoir says his worst World Cup memory was also his final game for France - the 62-13 defeat in the 2015 quarterfinals.
"It's a very bad memory. More than the loss, it was our attitude in the match that really disappointed me," he said.
First up for France are nemesis Argentina in the opening Pool C match in Tokyo on Saturday.
Despite backing his country to defeat the Pumas in their opening game, Dusautoir thinks the All Blacks will continue their run as world champions.
"After a Rugby Championship which was, let's not exaggerate, not disappointing, but not at the level we expect of the All Blacks, New Zealand still remain favourites," he said.
"I would also bet on the Springboks, while in Europe, the English and Welsh will have something to say - they've been building their teams for the last four years, with performances that match that.
"They go into the World Cup with a lot of certainty - it's a real strength.
"It's what we the French don't have and is maybe our weakest point. We have very good players but will we be able to construct a team in so little time?"