Sean O'Brien moves to blindside flanker and Denis Leamy is named among the replacements in place of Shane Jennings. David Wallace, who touched down against France last year, completes the starting back row.
Commenting on the selection, Kidney said: "I wasn't satisfied with the way we played (in Italy). I think we can play a lot better but I believe the players that played, played in a way that they deserve another go.
"As a team and as units we have made one change. Jamie is obviously a good player. He brings his own skill set to it.
"That will give us a little bit of variation in that line of our team, but other than that, sometimes you need to back them and that is what I am doing.
"Denis (Leamy) is unlucky to lose out. He had a very good day for us the last day. There would be a number of different factors in that selection and one small one, not the overriding one, would be the fact that Sean has played at six with Jamie at eight before."
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll is within touching distance of yet another career milestone - the Championship try-scoring record that has stood since 1933. O'Driscoll is one try short of equalling Ian Smith's record.
Click here for the Ireland v France head-to-head preview.
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v France, 2011 RBS 6 Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Sunday, February 13, kick-off 3pm):
15 - Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster)
14 - Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
13 - Brian O'Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) (capt)
12 - Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
11 - Keith Earls (Thomond/Munster)
10 - Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
9 - Tomas O'Leary (Dolphin/Munster)
2 - Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
3 - Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
4 - Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
5 - Paul O'Connell (Young Munster/Munster)
6 - Sean O'Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
7 - David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster)
8 - Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)
16 - Sean Cronin (Buccaneers/Connacht)
17 - Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
18 - Leo Cullen (Blackrock College/Leinster)
19 - Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)
20 - Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
21 - Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
22 - Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster)
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