France coach Philippe Saint-Andre saw his team's Six Nations title and Grand Slam hopes evaporate with a home defeat against England last weekend.
And the former Gloucester and Sale Sharks boss has responded by making five changes, plus a positional switch to the wing for prolific try-scoring centre Wesley Fofana.
But they are eminently capable of spoiling the planned Welsh party, given that their Six Nations record in Cardiff shows five wins and one defeat.
"I think they are going to come and be very physical with us," Wales coach Gatland said.
"They've picked a tough pack, so we are going to have to expect that real physical contribution they are capable of bringing. It is going to be tough up front.
"When France have been dangerous in this Six Nations is when they have come from behind.
"Against Scotland, England and Ireland, they put themselves under a bit of pressure by going behind, and then played their best rugby. We are aware of how dangerous they potentially are.
"Having coached against Philippe in the past in the Premiership, he is relatively conservative in the way he approaches the game. He is very pragmatic in terms of set-pieces and big physical players.
"I don't think he will care too much about what type of rugby they play - his whole focus is trying to win the match.
"France are a good side, one of the top teams in the world.
"We've had a couple of close games against them, and we've contributed to our own downfall in a few of those with a couple of interception tries, a couple of yellow cards, a turnover and charge-down, so we know we have got to be accurate."
Wales will match the achievement of the so-called 1970s golden era teams if they sweep the Six Nations board this weekend.
It would be their third Grand Slam in eight seasons, a feat that Wales also achieved between 1971 and 1978.
"This is a tough competition to win, and to win a Grand Slam you need some luck," Gatland added.
"We've had a bit of luck, and when you also get a bit of confidence and momentum, you've got a chance.
"It is not easy to do it, and we have given ourselves an opportunity, but what we are also excited about is what we think we can build on over the next couple of seasons."
Gatland, meanwhile, believes it could be time for rugby chiefs to take a stand regarding the Millennium Stadium roof on match days.
The current Six Nations arrangement is that both participating teams have to be in agreement for the roof to be closed. If they cannot agree, it stays open.
France have already said they want the roof open, despite a forecast for rain in Cardiff on Saturday afternoon.
"It's okay if it is a nice day, isn't?" Gatland said.
"I think it is something that maybe as a Welsh Union we need to make some sort of representation to the IRB (International Rugby Board).
"If it is our stadium and we've got the ability to open and close the roof, then maybe we should be the team that decides it.
"I would hate to think that on Saturday, if it is pouring down with rain and we've got the chance to close the roof (that we don't). Potentially, it makes a game less open or less attractive because the rain may affect it.
"We all have a responsibility not just to broadcasters, but to the public and the game as a whole to make it as attractive as possible.
"And if that means closing the roof because it is wet, then I think we should be able to do that."
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