The Scots ran in three tries of their own, as many as they did in the entire 2010 Six Nations campaign, but Townsend would prefer to win ugly despite his side's improvement from last year.
"We believed we had the team to go out to Paris to win," said Townsend who played an instrumental role in Scotland's last victory in Paris in the 1999 Five Nations.
"We're even more convinced it was a missed opportunity knowing that their defence was under pressure and knowing that four tries came from our ball not their ball
"We're disappointed by our turnovers and how we defended off them. We believe it's a missed opportunity like two years ago in Paris when we played a lot of rugby.
"We knew we had a top-quality defence under pressure at times and we didn't kick on, especially in that third quarter.
"It's frustrating. It's great we had some good attacking play, but we didn't get the win. I'd prefer to score no tries and win."
Scotland return home to host a Wales side low on confidence this weekend and Townsend is eager for his side to learn the lessons from last year's heartbreaking 31-24 defeat to the Welsh.
"It was a cracking game last year," he said. "We were very disappointed by the last 15 minutes, but it was a fantastic match, excellent for the neutrals and even better for the Welsh fans
"We did down there a year ago. Our accuracy and ambition, and our decision-making, were excellent for 70 minutes.
"But we're a different team from a year ago. I'd like to think we're a different team from the autumn with the work we've been doing since then. So we should see a different team at the weekend."