Buying process in France is held in the notary's office and it's usual for the buyer to be there! If you can't be, you can arrange a power of attorney for it to be signed in your absence. Alternatively, an agent should arrange for you to view the property on the day of the signing because the final contract ("projet de vente") has a clause saying 'sold as seen on signing date', so it's important that you know what state the property is actually in!
As you can realize, buying property France look sometime a difficult task if you don't are careful with famous "Initial Agreement"!
The Initial Agreement is negotiated between buyer and seller and is the initial contract which is called in french "Sous-seing Privé," if drawn up by an French Estate Agent. Alternatively a so called "Compromis de Vente", is prepared by the "Notaire", and is then signed by both parties. At this stage of the process the property is taken off the market.
The "Compromis de Vente" is a legal document, binding on both parties: it should not be taken lightly! At this stage the buyer pays a deposit of a minimum of 10% of the purchase price which remains 'blocked' in a special account at the "Notaire" office until such time as completion takes place or the purchase is aborted.
Ultimately, don't forget:! On top of the 'net' purchase price of the property, there will be notary fees, and also french agent's fee when buying property France.