"This was the sharpest decline since the quarterly GDP calculations for Germany began in 1970", the statistics office said. European Union leaders have agreed on a 750 billion-euro recovery fund backed by common borrowing to support the recovery from 2021.
"All the growth in GDP seen in the 2010-2019 decade has been wiped out in five months", said Marc Ostwald, chief economist at ADM Investor Services International. The pain has been so damaging to jobs and industries that the government is talking down the possibility of another nationwide lockdown as infections tick upwards again. For France and other major economies, it caused a head-spinning decline.
The agency also revised the figure for the first quarter - when lockdowns just started to be implemented - to a 5.9-percent contraction from the 5.3 percent it had previously estimated.
The seasonally-adjusted quarter-on-quarter drop in gross domestic product (GDP) was better than forecast but worse than the performance of most of its eurozone peers.
In March, the health crisis prompted the French government to introduce what was one of Europe's strictest lockdowns, halting much activity in the second-largest economy of the countries that use the euro currency.
The INSEE noted that overall "the gradual ending of restrictions led to a gradual recovery of economic activity in May and June, after the low point reached in April".
Many employees are being paid by the state to help limit outright layoffs by companies hit hardest by the lockdowns.
As lockdowns have eased and many businesses reopened, there are hopes the recession will be short-lived, though an uptick in contagions in many countries remains a risk. But many job losses will wind up being permanent despite the stimulus.
The French lockdown was stringently enforced until May 11, with non-essential shops shut down, and gradually lifted over the course of the second quarter, with cafes and restaurants being allowed to open on June 2.