It was far from an accomplished performance for Laurent Blanc's team, who went ahead through early goals from Karim Benzema and Yann M'Vila.
Albania then rocked the visitors with a reply from Erjon Bogdani in the opening minute of the second half, but France clung on for a win which takes them three points clear at the top of Euro 2012 qualifying Group D.
France are still rebuilding following their controversial 2010 World Cup campaign under Raymond Domenech, but Benzema insists the signs are positive as they close in on a place at Poland and Ukraine next summer.
"It was a very good start to the match, we were active, we defended well together and pushed forward," the Real Madrid striker told www.fff.fr.
"In the second half, it's not that we weren't very good in defence, but we conceded a goal within minutes.
"That held back the result, but we're getting better every game. We know each other better as well.
"Every game is a new challenge but I know everyone remains confident."
Blanc is also satisfied with the progress the team are making, but is aware there is still work to be done.
"The players have clearly improved," the coach said. "It's another game under our belts, one more victory.
"At 2-0, we knew it was not finished. At 2-1, there was some turbulence, but we recovered well."
Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri was happy the team could add to their points tally in what proved to be a tricky encounter in Tirana.
"They created problems for us and the crowd were also passionate," he said.
"But this is the result we wanted and we would have taken it at the start of the day.
"It gives us a little more room over our group rivals."
Les Bleus head to Bucharest on Tuesday to meet Romania, who lie fourth in the pool.