Hi Ashley ,
I see that Andrew and John have given good advise , let me share my experience an put some more detailed costs for you to consider .
France is a great country to live in , has a good social support system, good housing and medical care .
it seems that you have a passion for working in the mountains , so my advice would be to consider working for an employer there. Depending on where you wish to live you might be able to find a job easier in the English speaking resorts Ie , 3 valleys area , Courchevel , Meribel, Val Thorens or Near Mont Blanc areas, chamonix , Megeve , Morzine ,these are very popular for the Brits.
Have you considered setting up a business in Switzerland , Its much more biz friendly, less red tape, Beaurocracy .
Zermatt, Verbier, Crans Montana, are popular brit sking areas.
You will need a a local person living in Switzerland who will be your business non salaried director .
Companies can help you with this but usually charge 4-5000 Chf year for this service .
Should You go ahead In France
Setting up an SARL in France for your small biz, consider the following costs
Accountant , (cost approx 3,500+ eu year )
Business Set up costs approx 4,000-5000 EU Notaire etc )
Insurance indemnity (legal indemnity cost approx 80 Eu month up to cover of 0.5million eu)
Bank account /charges cost 30-40 eu monthly fee + other money transfer costs
Your carte vitale. (medial insurance)(they will ask which regieme you want )
You have to register for Vat (TVA) and charge your customers 20% for most services although there are other applicable rates.
For a Sarl you can put in 3,000 Eu ,as share capital to start the business .
If you area registered Director You need to pay for private insurance In case of chomage ,
can be up to 25% of your salary depending on which biz you are doing .
If you have to close the business down in case of financial difficulties, and are a director ,you will not qualify for unemployment benefit chomage In France ??? so without insurance you get nothing , whereas if you are an employee you are entitled to chomage after 2 years employment and this can be up to 70% of salary for a period of 2 years, depending on your age.
RSI , Regieme Social Independants :-
This is the killer of most small business in France as you have to pay each Quarter upfront based on the salary you took the previous year , if your business is down you still have to pay ,if you pay late, they fine you another 10% of the cost.
The RSI fees costs are 48% of what you take as salary,
Personal taxes, you get an allowance of approx 9,000 Eu prior to tax.Personal tax is a sliding scale ranging from 12-70% depending of how rich you are .
Professional taxes another 500-700 EU year. +
Tax on your house , French taxes Fonciers + Taxes audio visual these are deependant on where you live and if you own the house or are a tennant.
biz Corporate taxes approx 12-20% of profit the company makes.(This may have changed now to an even higher rate )
You used to be able to take a dividend and just pay 12-20% personal taxes now they charge you the RSI 48% so you are effectivly taxed 60%.
So In sumary if you are ok with paying yourself a very low salary, to exist its ok.
Good Luck , let me know how you get on , i am a keen skier , and also love the mountains.
I still live in France and its a fantastic place to live , i just wish that the French government understood that small companies grow into larger ones , taxing small single owner companies that can't afford to reinvest , kills enterprise.