Matt Fagerson is next to be given the chance to stake a claim for Scotland's problematic number eight jersey after Blade Thomson did little to show he is the long-term pick at the back of the scrum, while the only change in the backs see wing Blair Kinghorn replace Edinburgh club-mate Darcy Graham.
The first half was a battle of the kickers, with Duncan Weir ensuring Scotland went in level at 12-12 after successfully knocking over his four attempts. And they were left to sample the bitter taste of defeat for the first time since February when Stuart Hogg's failure to find the corner with a stoppage-time penalty sealed France's win.
Later on Saturday, Wales brought their five-match losing streak to an end by battling to an 18-0 win over Georgia in Llanelli.More news: A unusual metal monolith has been discovered in Utah
"It's just the win that matters, we did it and that's great for everyone because it was hard", France captain Charles Ollivon said after an attritional game at a virtually empty Murrayfield.
Scotland will be idle next week after seeing next week's clash with Covid-hit Fiji axed - but France can book their place in the final with victory over Italy in Paris.
But Vakatawa's well-worked try soon after the break saw France pull clear at 19-12. "But to take that next step we've got to take our opportunities and be accurate when we have them".
As Ramos sliced the ball, fly-half Matthieu Jalibert put France in front with a drop goal in the 24th minute following which Weir and Ramos exchanged penalties as the scoreline became 9-12 in the opening 30 minutes of the game.More news: Two people killed in California church stabbing spree
It was another encouraging result for France, which has lost just once in the pandemic-affected 2020 and narrowly missed out on the Six Nations title.
France squandered a potential second try when Vakatawa cut inside before Fickou was held up short of the line.
Gregor Townsend's men were looking to match a feat achieved only twice in the Dark Blues' modern rugby history, the last by David Sole's 1990 Grand Slam winners.More news: Biden To Nominate Former Fed Chair Janet Yellen For Treasury Secretary