Leosghost - 12:44 pm on Sep 3, 2011 (gmt 0)
You can target France all you like ( in WMT or elsewhere ) ..but unless you have a .fr ( and the eligibility conditions are strict ..must be French*./.must be resident in France* ./.must have a French business registration number* ) ..you won't rank as high on searches from here ( in either French or English..no matter what their language settings are or what your on page language is, site or folder structure looks like ) as those who do fulfill one of the conditions required to register a .fr.
Helps enormously to be hosted in France too..
* any one of these will do..
Germany is even more stringent with regard to the requirements for .de.
Bing is even more "picky" about geo-targeted results..
Inbounds from French language pages hosted in France will be worth more to your pages ( and thus SERP rankings for those pages ) than inbounds from non French hosted pages in French which will in their turn be worth more than inbounds from non French hosted pages in other languages..even if the PR of the latter two is higher than the former ..etc etc.
** There are French based services ( I do not mean the French registrars ..nor the non French based but AFNIC approved registrars of which a certain "daddy" is one..there are others ) which will register "by proxy" a .fr for those who do not meet the above conditions.