Townsend is hoping to put the brakes on a team he believes are in better shape than the All Blacks right now and has named a new front row with Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown and Simon Berghan.
Matt Fagerson is next to have the chance to claim Scotland’s problematic number eight jersey after Blade Thomson did little to show he was the long-term choice at the back of the fray , while the only change in full-backs see winger Blair Kinghorn replaces Edinburgh teammate Darcy Graham.
Saracen duo Sean Maitland and Duncan Taylor – who last played for Scotland against Russia in the 2019 World Cup – also join the bench.
Townsend said: “France are full of confidence and have played really well this year. We know we’re up against one of the best teams in the world right now, so for this challenge we’re going to have to play close to our best throughout Sunday’s competition.
“The Fall Nations Cup is all about opportunities – the opportunity to play in a new competition and the opportunity for us as coaches to see how many of our team behave when they have the chance to play.