Kittel and his team-mates were nowhere to be seen as the peloton strung out after a narrow roundabout entry, but the boys in blue found their way back to the front just in time.
The big German looked set to battle Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) for the win until Coquard stormed up from the back of the bunch to challenge on the line.
The day's breakaway shed a few members early doors and was down to three riders by the time the peloton swallowed them up in the final seven kilometres.
As with the previous three stages, many of the general classification teams were on the front mixing it with the sprint trains in an attempt to keep their leaders out of danger.
Etixx-Quick Step went missing after traffic furniture caused the peloton to fight for road space, leaving Andre Greipel's Lotto-Soudal team to do most of the work into the final kilometre.
But the Etixx train worked its way back into contention to set Kittel up for the sprint. Sagan opened up before Kittel, with the German moving past the yellow jersey holder in the middle of the road.
On the left, though, was the bounding Coquard, who was throwing his bike all over the place to get every bit of speed out of it. A small touch of elbows in the last 50m wasn't enough to disrupt either of the riders' rhythm and it was down to the judges to split the pair on the line.
Kittel takes his stage win tally to nine, having won four stages in each of the 2013 and 2014 Tours. Sagan retains his yellow jersey for another day, but with five categorised climbs in the final 60km of stage five it could be handed to another rider on Wednesday.
Sagan also regained the green jersey from Mark Cavendish, who could only finish eighth on the stage after finding himself boxed in during the finale.
Tour de France stage four, Saumur - Limoges (237.5km)
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx-Quick Step, 5-28-30
2. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff
4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
6. Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling
7. Dan McLay (GBr) Fortuneo-Vital Concept
8. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data
9. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
10. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange, all same time
General classification after stage three
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff in 20-03-36
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx-QuickStep at 12 secs
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 14 secs
4. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin at 18 secs
5. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky
6. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff
7. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
8. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana
9. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange
10. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac, all same time
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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.
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