Thanks very much both Coton90 and Bevdeforges! Very helpful. Yes, I remember that horrific caution (6 months it seemed) for anyone unable to produce payslips, but banks are pretty good about it if you have a healthy enough looking account. My husband has his Social Security proof, that might help, plus I have my Italian billing records.
I do wonder if you leave France, having been there long enough to get the 10-year card, the clock gets re-set as it were--all that effort in getting a long term séjour goes up in smoke if you let it expire. No idea where I'll find that sort of info...I do know you can live outside of France for 3 years and the card will still be valid, but it can't have expired, obviously.
In any event I have my research work cut out for me!
ps: Coton90--I currently live in the north of Italy, so balmy weather isn't a priority for me, in fact I quite appreciate 4 full-fledged seasons. Thanks for the suggestion anyway though.