Edinburgh back-row Magnus Bradbury is the only change to the pack following his return from injury last weekend, and he replaces Glasgow Warriors co-captain Ryan Wilson, who is nursing a knee injury.
The other three changes come in the backs, with Glasgow playmaker Pete Horne starting in place of former Scotstoun team-mate Finn Russell, who sustained a head injury on club duty with French TOP 14 side Racing 92.
Blair Kinghorn of Edinburgh replaces Glasgow’s Stuart Hogg for his third international start at his club position of full-back, while Nick Grigg - a stand-out for Glasgow in their 38-34 PRO14 victory over Cardiff Blues last weekend - deputises for sidelined club colleague Huw Jones.
Townsend said: “Injuries create opportunities for others to show what they can do and, throughout the past couple of seasons, we’ve seen a number of players really step up.
“All of the players coming in started against Argentina in the summer, which ranks as one of our best ever away performances.
“On top of that there is cohesion forged through familiarity at club level – Magnus [Bradbury] in the back-row lines up with clubmate Jamie Ritchie, and Pete Horne and Nick Grigg are either side of Sam Johnson in the backs.”
Scotland head to the French capital looking for a first win since the historic 1999 victory that secured the last Five Nations title. Townsend scored one of Scotland’s five tries that day and is well aware of France’s threat on home turf.
“At home, France have played really well in the past two Championships. They were 16-0 up at half-time against Wales, and their previous Six Nations games before included a win over England and a last minute defeat to the eventual Irish team that went on to win the Grand Slam,” Townsend said after naming his team.
“They are a very dangerous opponent; combining power, ambition and skill. Their individual talent is outstanding and, when they get things right – which has predominantly been in the Six Nations at home – they’ve played with a real collective spirit and fed off the emotion of the crowd. They will certainly be fired up following their loss at Twickenham.”
Scotland, too, are on the end of a defeat after going down 13-22 to Ireland at BT Murrayfield last time out, and Townsend has urged his charges to show what they’re capable of.
“Like France, we too are coming off the back of a defeat and want to show a better picture of ourselves and play closer to our potential,” he said.
“The players invested a huge amount of effort against Ireland and this energy will be essential once again this weekend.”
Scotland team to play France in Paris in round three of the Guinness Six Nations
15. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 9 caps
14. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 48 caps
13. Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors) – 6 caps
12. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 2 caps
11. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 38 caps
10. Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 39 caps
9. Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN (Clermont Auvergne) – 68 caps
1. Allan Dell (Edinburgh) – 19 caps
2. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 24 caps
3. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 16 caps
4. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 30 caps
5. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 48 caps
6. Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) – 4 caps
7. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 8 caps
8. Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks) – 19 caps
16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 39 caps
17. Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors) – 7 caps
18. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 18 caps
19. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) – 15 caps
20. Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons) – 1 cap
21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 21 caps
22. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps
23. Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – 1 cap