The son of four-times capped former Wales international threequarter Jim Shanklin, Tom scored two tries on his international debut, in the 53-30 second Test victory over Japan in Tokyo last summer. His Championship debut comes 32 years after his father made his bow, also against the French.
He features among three changes new National Coach Steve Hansen has made from the starting line-up against Ireland 10 days ago for his first international in charge.
Shanklin and Newport's Andy Marinos - the latter came on as a 10th minute replacement in Dublin - form a new centre partnership with Jamie Robinson ruled out with an ankle injury and Iestyn Harris named among the replacements.
Andy Moore (Swansea) replaces ankle injury victim Chris Wyatt in the second row, Llanelli lock Wyatt failing an 11th hour fitness test.
"We selected the strongest available team against Ireland and we are currently trying to get some consistency into selection and feel that, by doing so, we will get the improvement we are looking for," said Hansen.
"Tom Shanklin's selection is down to the fact he was the in-form centre in the Wales A side and, with the odd exception, it is from that source our future selections will come."
Gavin Thomas (Bath Rugby) comes in for Neath's Brett Sinkinson on the replacement bench as part of the selection policy.
"The change between Brett and Gavin on the bench is because Brett has been selected to play for the A team on Friday night as part of the consistent rota policy where players sustain match fitness by playing in the A team rather than sit on the bench," said Hansen.
"Both players have been aware of our intentions regarding the rota policy."
LLOYDS TSB SIX NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP 2002
Wales v France
Saturday, 16th February
Kick-off: 2.00 pm
15 Kevin Morgan (Swansea)
14 Dafydd James (Bridgend)
13 Tom Shanklin (Saracens)
12 Andy Marinos (Newport Rugby)
11 Craig Morgan (Cardiff)
10 Stephen Jones (Llanelli)
9 Robert Howley (Cardiff)
1 Spencer John (Cardiff)
2 Robin McBryde (Llanelli)
3 Chris Anthony (Newport Rugby)
4 Craig Quinnell (Cardiff)
5 Andy Moore (Swansea)
6 Nathan Budgett (Bridgend)
7 Martyn Williams (Cardiff)
8 Scott Quinnell (Llanelli, captain)
16 Barry Williams (Neath)
17 Duncan Jones (Neath)
18 Ian Gough (Newport Rugby)
19 Gavin Thomas (Bath Rugby)
20 Dwayne Peel (Llanelli)
21 Iestyn Harris (Cardiff)
22 Rhys Williams (Cardiff)
Wales and Ospreys back row James King, who came through the North Wales age grade system, nominated North Wales Regional Community Rugby Manager Marc Roberts, in the WRU's 'Diolch' initiative where squad players thanked those who played a part in their rise to the top.
Beating Merthyr has boosted Carmarthen Quins hopes of reaching a top eight spot in the Principality Premiership. Quins captain Haydn Pugh is delighted with his team's progress and is determined that everyone from the Under 6s through to the senior team, enjoys the ride.
When the Wales squad were asked to nominate individuals who played a big part in their early playing days, Wales and Dragons full back and wing Hallam Amos thought of his former Monmouth School rugby coach John Bevan.
Sam Cross and Luke Treharne have been named as co-captains of the Wales Sevens side as head coach Gareth Williams names his 12-man squad to play in the first leg of the HSBC World Series in Dubai next weekend.
Bedwas head coach Steve Law and players Nicky Griffiths and Alun Rees extol the virtues of the close knit club as they prepare to host third place RGC 1404 - who are one place head of them on the Principality Premiership points table - on Saturday.
Many of the Wales squad have said Diolch (thank you) to someone who played an important part in their early playing days by nominating them to be invited to the Wales v South Africa match. One person, Gowerton Comprehensive geography teacher Mr Dean Mason was nominated by two of his former pupils, Dan Biggar and Sam Davies.
The second WRU disability rugby pilot has been delivered, this time in Caerphilly schools, culminating in a festival at the Caerphilly Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach tomorrow. Plans are in place to set up a Disability Rugby Club in Newbridge to provide long-term playing opportunities.
WRU TV: Hear from inside the Wales camp as Neil Jenkins discusses this weekend's clash with South Africa and how the squad are looking to put in a strong performance to round of the 2016 Under Armour Series