Les Bleus let victory slip through their grasp in a dramatic finish in the first game between the nations in Brisbane last week.
Despite controlling much of Wednesday's contest in Melbourne, France risked suffering a similar fate and losing the series when Michael Hooper crossed in the 71st minute and Noah Lolesio then gave Australia their first lead of the match with a 40-metre penalty in the 75th minute.
But there was a final twist in the tale as France gained a penalty in the scrum and Melvyn Jaminet split the uprights to take his tally to 23 points and give his side a first triumph against the Wallabies in Australia since June 30, 1990.
The boot of Jaminet and Damian Penaud's first-half try had France ahead 16-13 at the interval, with Jake Gordon keeping the Wallabies in touching distance by going over from close range in the 38th minute.
Lolesio levelled matters at 16-16 six minutes after the restart but Jaminet's accuracy from the tee gave France a seemingly commanding nine-point lead, the tourists dictating matters despite a bruising performance from Marika Koroibete.
Koroibete gained 181 metres for the Wallabies, but it was their captain who looked to have turned the tide, Hooper scoring for the third successive game for the first time in his Australia career. Lolesio converted from out wide and then knocked over a long-range penalty.
Yet France were not to be denied this time around, an immense effort in the scrum allowing Jaminet to set up a decider back at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.