Airbus said that Thursday's agreement covers the purchase of 42 A320s and 18 A330s. The announcement gave no details of price or when the aircraft would be delivered.
Toulouse, France-based Airbus and its American rival Boeing Co. expect China to grow to rival the United States as their biggest market over the coming two decades.
China's purchases of foreign aircraft are dictated by the government, which makes those big-ticket items political leverage. Purchases often are announced in connection with high-level official contacts.
France reported a $34 billion trade deficit with China last year and accounts for less than 2 percent of Chinese foreign trade.