Ireland travel to Paris for the RBS Six Nations three weeks after the original game was postponed due to a frozen pitch.
Ireland's return has revived talk of their appalling record in the French capital of a solitary victory since 1972.
O'Connell has lost on all five visits to the Stade de France and painful experience has taught him that the Irish are usually the architects of their own downfall.
"We've given them soft tries in my time since I've been there," said the Munster and Lions lock.
"That's been the most common theme and you just can't do that in Paris.
"We've certainly played some good rugby there, but usually after we've left ourselves with too big a mountain to climb.
"Maybe we've tried a little bit too hard in the past.
"In the first half-hour against Italy last weekend it wasn't a great performance, but we were patient.
"Against France we must play in the right parts of the pitch.
"A big part of it for us will be eradicating those errors that can cost you momentum. You have to take you best game over there.
"If we play to our potential we can beat anyone, but reaching that level is the challenge."
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