The Scots fly out to the Far East in less than a month but the 32-3 mauling was a disastrous start to their pre-tournament schedule.
Townsend’s team simply could not contain the power and intensity of Jacques Brunel’s Les Bleus, who ran in five tries as Maxime Medard’s double was complimented by scores from debutant Alivereti Raka, Gregor Alldritt and Antoine Dupont.
And afterwards the head coach said: “There’s a lot of work to do. We expected a better performance.
“We go into every game we play, no matter the opponent, with the aim of winning and we believed as players and coaches that we were well-prepared for that game.
“Obviously that wasn’t correct. We missed parts of that first half just from not being in place quick enough to stop France getting quick ball and then not capitalising on opportunities we did have.
“France were very good, they seemed like they were in really good condition.
“We know our players are in very good physical condition but obviously tonight the match conditioning fell short but we will be better for the experience.
“But we have to be much, much better in terms of performance over the next three games and then when we get to Japan.”
Townsend names his 31-man squad on September 3 and he believes the result at the Allianz Riviera will be a wake-up call for those players hoping to make the cut.
Townsend – whose side face a return clash with Les Bleus in Edinburgh next Saturday – added: “The team is going to change a lot going into next week’s game so some players won’t get the opportunity to rectify it next week.
“But this is a timely reminder for those playing their first game of the season just how tough international rugby can be if you’re not switched on and don’t make your tackles, as happened a few times tonight.
“We will be demanding a reaction from the players. They will be demanding it too. The target this week will be to show a much truer image of ourselves.”
England Head Coach Eddie Jones said Wales was a brilliant World Cup warm-up after his side lost at the Principality Stadium. England suffered a 21-13 loss to Wales as both teams’ prepare for the Rugby World Cup that starts next month in Japan.
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