A heavily-rotated side put out by Didier Deschamps led through Adrien Rabiot’s fine finish early in the second-half before VAR overturned an offside goal to hand the hosts a penalty late on.
Andrej Kramaric rolled home the 83rd-minute spot-kick to send the fans in Split wild – and follow up France’s opening-day defeat to Denmark with more dropped points.
Deschamps was back on the bench after he missed Friday’s game against Denmark following the death of his father.
“We did good things considering all the changes. We were ahead and could have scored more but it’s a pity we gifted them the equaliser,” said Deschamps, who insisted France’s goal was to gear up for the World Cup.
“It was however a coherent performance. They barely threatened in the second half.
“The result is not satisfying and even if it’s a competitive game our goal is to prepare for [the World Cup at] the end of the year.”
Croatia were the most dangerous in a lively start before Christopher Nkunku was denied a goal for offside as France began to threaten on the break around the half hour mark.
Les Bleus piled the pressure on Croatia’s left flank and Moussa Diaby came close before the break just before Aurelien Tchouameni’s fierce strike was parried away by Dominik Livakovic.
France were rewarded for their good intentions in the 52nd minute when Rabiot collected a through ball from Wissam Ben Yedder and found the back of the net with a low shot for his second international goal.
But substitute Jonathan Clauss brought Kramaric down in the area and the striker converted the resulting penalty by wrongfooting Mike Maignan in the 83rd minute.
Kramaric threatened again five minutes from time but Maignan pulled a decisive save to salvage a point.
France next travel Austria on Friday before hosting Croatia in a week’s time.
Additional reporting by Reuters.