I’ve just come back from opening my French bank account (finally after living here for 5 months!) and I must say it was a breeze!
I was rather apprehensive beforehand, having read so much about the French bureaucracy and paperwork, and ensuring you have practically your life history with you - but hey, that's why we love France isn't it?!
Anyway my experience was fabulous. We have now got an account with Credit Agricole, after setting up an appointment with our local branch (in a small village in Aquitaine department) and just need to wait 5 days to receive our cards and pin number.
So I can't recommend them highly enough (although I appreciate it very much depends on your branch, who you speak with, your grasp of the language (and mine isn't brilliant), etc etc).
Next up, buying a car and finding a new rental near Bayonne, but I am feeling a lot more positive about handling it!