Before I go nuts this is the state of play:
I have been running around in circles playing chicken and egg.
I need to register in France to get a SS number, Carte Vitale and register as an AE.
CPAM do not deal with the self employed.
I have managed to narrow this down to the Chamber of Commerce - which may seem easy until your realise there are two of them.
I got in touch with one and spoke to a very helpful English speaking lady who informed me I'd got the wrong one.
She, kindly, then got in touch with the other Chamber of Commerce and sent me an email with their phone number.
She told me that they can register me if I go there (Bourges - I'd prefer not, thank you) or online.
I then phoned the 2nd Chamber and they didn't have an English speaking lady.
If you can register on line simply for the SS number via the Chamber of Commerce or anywhere else, please let me know - that, of course, is without it being necessary for me to already be registered as an AE. That's where the chicken and egg situation comes in.
Oh, and La Ram and RSI could, if you let them, drive you insane...really, they are useless.