VIDEO: Schmidt reacts to Sexton wonder kick
VIDEO: Schmidt reacts to Sexton wonder kickSHARE
Sexton's effort came from 40 metres out and after Ireland had put together 41 phases in possession in the dying moments of the game.
"It's pretty hard to explain how you feel when you think that the game has gone away and you've let it slip and then suddenly you've grabbed it," Schmidt said at his post-match press conference.
"It was an incredible effort to work their way up the pitch ending with a 40-metre drop goal. It's fairly inspirational.
"There are so many players involved, we played a number of phases , it was difficult to clear out the ball a number of times.
"When he struck the drop goal I was just willing it had enough distance to go over."
While Ireland had been in control of the match via a series of Sexton penalties, they frequently gave up possession when in the France 22.
It looked like Ireland's repeated errors, in addition to a penalty miss from Johnny Sexton with 18 minutes left, would come back to bite them when France wing Teddy Thomas scored a super try with seven minutes to go.
"We did a lot of things very well: We started very strongly, we launched at them and there was some good handling from the backline," Schmidt added.
"It was a stop-start game with a lot of penalties.
"If you try to break a French defence with slow balls you're really up against it. They're a tough layer. Maybe people underestimate how hard it is to come here and win.
"It's always disappointing not to score tries but it's hard to put pressure on any team if the ball is slow and France could only score because of Teddy Thomas's brilliance."
Ireland host Italy in Dublin next weekend, while France travel to Scotland – who were well beaten 34-7 against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.