Does anybody have any good ideas for resource materials discussing living in the Provence area for a year during retirement. I don't plan on taking up permanent residence in France, I would just like to spend all four seasons living in a village, preferrably in the Aveyron area. What about renting apartments, purchasing an automobile, emergency healthcare, etc? Thank you.
Another website to check out for curiosity is angloinfo.com. It's all from expats who live in France and have dealt with these issues. There are specific sections dealing with the most popular parts of the country.
I think you would need to contact the nearest French Consulate or the Embassy in Washington for this information. You can't just go and live in France for a year without a huge amount of time-consuming paperwork and financial guarantees, any more than I can come and live in Texas for a year from Canada.
The rules differ from country to country in the Schengen Zone, but at a minimum, you'll need a long term visa. As the last poster noted, contact the nearest French consulate or the embassy in DC. From what I have read, as long as you don't plan to seek work, France is one of the easier countries in the EU to obtain a visa. Among other requirements, you will need to demonstrate that you possess sufficient money and health insurance to support yourself for the duration of your stay. You probably can not sign a long-term rental contract until you obtain the visa. Once you have a physical address in France, then you can open a local bank account... which I highly recommend. It's one thing to travel through Europe and just pay for everything with cash or a credit card. But this is not practical for the purposes of paying everyday bills, like rent, utilities, and any other services you may require.
Check out InternationalLiving.com. They have country specific guides you can buy on exactly how to do what you're asking. I bought their France one several years ago. There are also books explaining how to do it, check Amazon or a bookstore or library.