For me, the French only started in 1925 when it became open to foreign players. Before that, it only shows who were the best French players of the times, and they weren't the best players in the world.
As for the challenge thing, well, that was so long time ago. From results of many French events, we could see that Adine Masson deserved to be rewarded, if only for regular victories in the country. But that's it. The best French players weren't better than the German ones, or the Russian ones, or the Aussie ones... the best players were in the UK since the start, in competition with the US since 1900 (the famous Sutton-Chambers rivalry), and we will never know about the isolated case of Rose Payten (Australia). Then came Suzanne after WW1.