Having reached the semi-finals in 2018 and finished as runners-up at last year’s European Championship, Gareth Southgate’s side were dreaming of a mouthwatering semi-final against Morocco.
England’s hopes were dashed by Aurelien Tchouameni’s early thunderbolt, only for Kane to level from the spot and equal Wayne Rooney’s goalscoring record for the national team.
France’s all-time scorer Olivier Giroud restored the World Cup holders’ lead and it proved to be the winner after Kane blazed over a late penalty in a crushing 2-1 quarter-final exit.
England midfielder Jordan Henderson said: "It is hard now to sum it up, it is hard to find the right words.
"I thought we gave everything in the game, we were disappointed to go 1-0 down but we showed the character and mentality to keep going and find the equaliser.
"We gave it everything and unfortunately it wasn't our night.
"We know how many penalties Harry has scored for us, how many goals he has contributed to even get us here. He will be stronger for this in the future. He is a world-class striker and our captain, he will bounce back."
England have a long history of costly spot-kick misses but normally those issues arise in shoot-outs, like the agonising Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy last summer.
Southgate is contracted until next the European Championship and this may well prove his final World Cup match in charge – a night when his players rallied impressively after falling behind for the first time in Qatar.
Tchouameni’s thunderous drive from distance flew in just 17 minutes into the game after calls for a foul on Bukayo Saka in the build-up fell on deaf ears.
Penalty appeals for a Dayot Upamecano foul on Kane were also ignored after the VAR concluded the decision occurred outside the box, but Southgate’s side heeded his advice to remain composed and robust.
England deservedly drew level when Tchouameni upended Saka early in the second half, with Kane beating Hugo Lloris to move level with Rooney’s all-time record of 53 goals.
Giroud put Didier Deschamps’ side back ahead in Al Khor, only for Theo Hernandez’s clumsy challenge on Mason Mount to bring another penalty after referee Wilton Sampaio reviewed the pitchside monitor.
But Kane found the Al Bayt Stadium stands rather than the net, meaning England are packing for home rather than preparing for a third successive semi-final in major competitions, while France face Morocco on Wednesday.