How well do you know France? Is there a region you prefer?
We’re part way through our purchase: in general we found being nearer a significant facility is more expensive i.e. within an hour of the coast, a ski resort or in a city. Like the UK, France is becoming much more built-up than it was 30 years ago, and you need to decide if that bothers you.
We found it was more affordable to be <1 hour from the sea in Normandy and Brittany, with prices increasing heading further south. If you don’t need the sea then looking further inland is much more affordable, especially if you can do work yourself (though as some here point out, you probably won’t make money doing a place up - you’ll likely just get your money on improvements back). Friends that have a house in the Tarn reckoned the weather was noticeably better south of the Loire, which reflected my experience on holidays.
Cheapest areas seemed to be central France, in a band running across the middle, although Brittany and Normandy could be extremely good value too. We did a bit of a ‘grand tour’ driving 2500 miles in 2 weeks because we did not have a specific area that we wanted - we’ve holidayed in the Loire, Biarritz & Aquitaine, Vendee, near Verdun (too flat for me!) and Burgundy.
Many properties come with a lot of land around, and to a Brit that sounds really attractive. Don’t forget that land will need maintenance, and if you don’t live there full time then it can become burdensome having to spend all your holiday time looking after it. Ditto if the property needs a lot of work. Furniture is often left behind, but conversely fitted kitchens and appliances seem to sometimes get taken by the vendors.
House prices in France and the UK aren’t comparable, and if you sell up in the UK it may never be possible to buy another house there if you want to return. If you find a place you like then make an offer and negotiate as required.
Estate agents can be quite patchy, and poor at replying/responding, some not bothering at all. Generally I found agents from Leggetts most responsive, although we had good responses from Selection Habitat too. I saw a lot of houses that looked interesting on the Franimo website, but lots of enquiries brought very few replies. I’d recommend always asking for more details and an address, then viewing the area in google streetview and google maps - sometimes nice looking houses can be close to railway lines or industrial areas, or the area is just a bit sucky.
In terms of buying process there are several well-written guides available via the various estate agents, and I’d recommend reading a couple of those.
This is just my observations - others here may well have contrary thoughts and findings.