The French, disrupted due to the fact Toulouse meet ASM Clermont Ferrand in the final of the Top 14 championship in Paris tonight, made life difficult for the home side in the first-half and were within four points at the break thanks to two penalties from Dmitri Yachvili.
It was Australia's outside half Matt Giteau that made all the running for his side in the opening 40 minutes as he kicked a penalty, broke clear for a try and added the conversion.
With their first Tri Nations assignment against the world champion Springboks only three weeks away, the Wallabies won't have been happy with their handling in the early stages.
But after the break they were far more clinical and precise and Nathan Sharpe's close range try at the start of the second half settled them into a rhythm. Back rower Rocky Elsom was next to cross the French line and skipper Stirling Mortlock rounded things off with an interception try.
Giteau converted them all and added an extra penalty to at one stage extend the Aussie lead to 28 points. But the French hit back with a try 12 minutes from time by their impressive debutant wing from Brive, Alexis Plisson, which Francois Trinh-Duc converted.
The two teams meet again next weekend before the Wallabies host South Africa in their first Tri Nations clash on 19 July.