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Are there offshore / freelancer / whatever services available that would be good quality?
I arranged "translation" of my UK site into Russian. I went into partnership with a UK based Russian who understood the subject matter and clearly understood the Russian culture and the nuances of the language. In fact he was so good that in the end the site is now not based on my site, rather he generates his own individual content.
Aside from the fact that the Russian internet market is crumbling before our eyes, the exercise has proved to be very beneficial to both of us. When markets return to normal, we will be there as the number one authority site in Russia.
I fully believe that there are no shortcuts which work as far as translation is concerned.
here their prices would be way too high
Obviously, professional translators will tend to be the most expensive, since that is how they make a living. Students will tend to be cheaper, but it also depends on where you look for the students. Using a French Studies major at Harvard is probably going to cost you more than an exchange student from France studying at a state college in middle America.
But since you want French -> English, I would recommend English speaking exchange students currently in France (again, look at the smaller, less expensive schools). Not sure about the exchange rates over there right now, but I would suspect that American students would be cheaper than those from the U.K.
The idea of seeing if I can find interested anglophone exchange students in France especially intrigues me. Time to work up some contacts in that area and see what comes of that idea. In any case, it's pretty simple to do a relatively short amount as a test and then see...