Hi Jeff - I am not any sort of expert on Europe
cruising maybe someone from your side of the pond will chime it. I have read a bit through cruising mags. My understanding is that there is no license requirement, yet in the UK and that the entry and exit procedures for France
If you are sailing alone there are lot's of boats you can consider in the sub 30' range that would be suitable. If you plan to do the French canals you might consider shoal draft
and something the mast
comes down on fairly easily.
I did read something about making sure all the VAT paperwork is in order on any boat you consider as it could hang things up if proof of VAT is unavailable. The boat could be held up until it is sorted.