the link given by Stemar reports a statement given by one administration official where they announced some modifications in the rules with effect 1.1.05, indeed a boat sailing more than 6nm from a shelter must have one aboard, a list of differences in the image below
The French have a system of permits for boats which require mounting levels of equipment. Covers everything from fire extinguisers - storm jibs to sextants and life rafts. The 5 catagories go from coastal to Cat 1 which is Ocean. You will get a serious fine if you exceed the distance offshore of the cat of your boat.
Plastimo (French company I think) are probably the cheapest life rafts available and a 4 man in France is around 800 euro and £550 in the UK....... Same. Many items are slightly cheaper in France on their reccomended price but the UK discounting make UK sometimes slightly cheaper...
Plastimo is a French company, their international website in English is www.plastimo.com. Please note that the liferaft you choose must be certified for your boats Class.:
- Coastal Cl V for Cat IV
- TransOcean Cl II light for Cat III
- TransOcean Cl II heavy for Cat II and Cat I.
In my opinion, it will not be cheaper to buy them in France.
If you have to buy electronics, buy them in the UK. It is mutch cheaper.