Nantes reached a second straight French Cup final as Ludovic Blas’ brilliant goal gave the holders a 1-0 last-four victory over Lyon on Wednesday.
Antoine Kombouare’s side booked a place in the April 29 showpiece at the Stade de France against either Toulouse or second-tier Annecy.
Lyon are still waiting for a first appearance in the final since winning the competition in 2012, after failing to back up last weekend’s Ligue 1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain.
Nantes, whose Cup triumph last season was their first major trophy since winning the league in 2001, have a golden chance of a successful defence.
“These are rare, exceptional moments,” said Nantes coach Kombouare.
“When you experience a season like last year, you tell yourself that it doesn’t only happen once in a lifetime, and then here we are again.”
Record 14-time winners PSG suffered a second straight early exit in the last 16 to Marseille, who were then dumped out by Annecy.
Nantes started brightly on Wednesday as they continued their bid for a fifth French Cup.
Jean-Charles Castelletto was denied an opening goal in just the second minute by Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, who also saved from Blas 20 minutes later.
Samuel Moutoussamy thought he had broken the deadlock just after the half-hour mark but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Nantes striker Mostafa Mohamed missed good chances either side of half-time, calling Lopes into action again before blazing wide.
Blas made no such mistake in the 57th minute, though, controlling Fabien Centonze’s long ball on his chest before slamming a left-footed volley past Lopes.
Bradley Barcola went close to a late equaliser as Lyon belatedly woke up, but Nantes held on for a deserved victory.