Bickerton stands at 9-under-par 133 for a one-shot advantage over Scotland's Gary Orr, who fired a 7-under 64 in the second round to reach 8-under-par 134.
Orr went without a bogey Friday despite hitting just 7-of-14 fairways in regulation. Behind him, 2005 U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand shares third place with Sweden's Joakim Backstrom (69), Welshman Bradley Dredge (66) and Spain's Jose Manuel Lara (68) at minus-7.
Campbell was in second place overnight, two shots behind Bickerton, but failed to make up any ground on the leader after also shooting a 70 at Le Golf National's Albatross Course.
On Thursday, Bickerton parlayed a recent putting adjustment into a bogey-free round that included just 25 putts. Friday, he opened with a three-putt at the first hole for his first bogey of the tournament.
Putting trouble was a running theme during his second round, which he finished needing 32 putts.
'Yesterday they were rolling in nicely and today I was leaving a lot short on line,' Bickerton said.
Recovering nicely, Bickerton collected birdies at the second and third holes, then added a birdie at the 10th to make the turn at 10 under.
On the back nine, Bickerton found two more bogeys -- at the par-4 12th, which he birdied Thursday, and the par-4 17th. He buffered those missteps with a birdie at the 15th to help him secure his first-ever 36-hole lead on the European Tour.
Bickerton, 36, is seeking his second career victory after winning last year's Abama Open de Canarias. That title came during his 12th season as a member of the European Tour.
Victories in back-to-back seasons could be career-changing after such a drought.
'You still have to go out and play, and at the end of the day if you focus on what you are doing and don't get ahead of yourself, that is the only way to do it,' said Bickerton. 'I felt nervous out there, but stayed focused.'
Orr climbed from 33rd place overnight with his 64, which included four birdies during a seven-hole stretch on the front nine and three more birdies on the back.
Afterward, the two-time European Tour winner reflected on losing his playing privileges two years ago.
'Losing my tour card made me sit back and look at what I was doing,' said Orr, 39, who claimed both of his titles in 2000. 'In a situation like that, you have to. There is no option. It's either do that or go and do something else. It is a straightforward decision.'
Peter Gustafsson and Markus Brier shot matching 3-under 68s and share seventh place with Benn Barham (69) at 6-under-par 136. Qatar Masters champion Henrik Stenson shot a 70 and leads a group of five player knotted in 10th place at minus-5.
The cut fell at 1-over with 72 players moving on to the weekend.
Defending champion Jean-Francois Remesy stumbled to a 75, but made the cut on the number. Others who weren't as lucky: world No. 10 and leading money winner on the European Tour David Howell, Thomas Bjorn and Nick Dougherty.
Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros, a four-time French Open champion and owner of a slew of tournament records, missed the cut in last place at plus-20. His nephew, Raul, was 11 shots better, but also missed the cut.