Bear in mind the hidden costs ( qualifying yourself or company according to french legislation for the .fr ) .. Unless you are offering a product which is physically shipped from France ( french buyers hate sending money "outside" or using credit cards "outside" as the french media is always feeding them "beware of foreign website scam" stories )..you will not actually need to have a dot fr to attract french visitors ..
You will need accurate translation of all copy and meta descriptions .. si non ..no cred ..no stick ..
And staff who are fully fluent in each of your languages to handle enquiries , mail , updates etc ..
Yeah we know about the fr domain, that sucks. We have an office in most European locations, although it is not always needed for domains. The prob is we have french speakers but a call center in central europe and have french speaking non natives....hmm wonder how that goes down. A french guy who does site translations has been warning me about the French distust of something that in not inheretly French.
The site is travel and payment is on arrival so maybe that would be a good plus point to emphasize card will nto be charged.
ccTLD's will convert more because you should also appear in the SERPs when the "pages from country" option is used on local Googles.
In my experience this is used by about 15-20% of visitor's for a website of mine that was hosted in the US and is now in Spain. So that's the increase in traffic I experienced after switching to a local host to get a .com domain in the SERPs when the "páginas de España" option is used (it was already appearing in the other 2 options).
The prob is we have french speakers but a call center in central europe and have french speaking non natives....hmm wonder how that goes down.
Not so good ..better would be to look at opening a call center in the Maghreb to deal with France ..cheap ..efficient and the french caller will think they are dealing with the Marseille region ..
Marrocains have the best french accent ..Algerians the worst..I love the accent of Senegalais but it can be a little difficult for some french ..very resonant ..open vowels like most African diction and phonetics
BTW most international companies that deal in France UPS , fed ex, paypal ,ebay etc have french nationals working out of my home country ..Ireland ..mostly around Dublin..weird thing about this ..that when I call the freephone number from here to track a parcel etc I get a french person who because they live at "home" has traces of my accent on their english :)..we then usually deal in both languages 'cos it's easier and improves their english..