Abstract: The “optimal fingerprint” method, usually used for detection and attribution studies, requires to know, or, in practice, to estimate the covariance matrix of the internal climate variability. In this work, a new adaptation of the “optimal fingerprints” method is presented. The main goal is to allow the use of a covariance matrix estimate based on an observation dataset in which the number of years used for covariance estimation is close to the number of observed time series. Our adaptation is based on the use of a regularized estimate of the covariance matrix, that is well-conditioned, and asymptotically more precise, in the sense of the mean square error. This method is shown to be more powerful than the basic “guess pattern fingerprint”, and than the classical use of a pseudo-inverted truncation of the empirical covariance matrix. The construction of the detection test is achieved by using a bootstrap technique particularly well-suited to estimate the internal climate variability in real world observations. In order to validate the efficiency of the detection algorithm with climate data, the methodology presented here is first applied with pseudo-observations derived from transient regional climate change scenarios covering the 1960–2099 period. It is then used to perform a formal detection study of climate change over France, analyzing homogenized observed temperature series from 1900 to 2006. In this case, the estimation of the covariance matrix is only based on a part of the observation dataset. This new approach allows the confirmation and extension of previous results regarding the detection of an anthropogenic climate change signal over the country.