The economics certainly will play a big part. The situation here was influenced by the fact that originally the GFI was needed not specifically for personnel protection but simply to ensure that a direct line-to-ground short would be cleared on the systems using a local ground rod where the loop impedance could be 200 ohms or more.
Even with only the 4 to 6 circuits typically used in homes here, it would have meant a much larger installation cost to provide a separate GFI for each circuit. Even today, individual branch GFIs are expensive. To take an example, in one current catalog I've looked up a 16A Wylex breaker (a common make here). The regular MCB is priced £6.78, but the RCD (GFI) version is £43.85.
If they became more widely used, then I'm sure the price would come down, just as it has done with regular MCBs, but of course we're in a vicious circle in that people won't start using them more until the price drops.
I don't like the whole-house GFI approach, for the same reason that I wouldn't like my car to be completely shut down in the middle of nowhere just because a turn-signal light has blown.
I would much prefer to see PME more widely used, although as other ECN discussions show the issue of bonding ground to neutral raises its own queries.
There's not a lot to tell about France really. I'm holding off and staying here a while longer at the moment, as real estate prices here are rising rapidly, so with some fixing up I should have more money available when I come to sell later.
The Charente/Dordogne region in France where I went is really lovely. Mostly very rural, nice countryside, and weather that's comfortably warmer than England without being too hot.
I'll probably head back down there eventually and find a fixer upper, or maybe even get a piece of land and build from scratch.
Know anyone who knows anything about wiring a house?