What's the difference between a doctorat in France and a PhD in the rest of Europe in terms of hours of work, examinations required and publications. Thanks !
The process is by and large similar. Certainly, such a thesis will be recognize as such in other countries. In any case I don't think France is particularly an outlier. Of course details vary by country, for example the way the thesis defense is handled.
As for course credits, there are some requirements for activities, such as courses, other than writing the thesis. But it is generally true that there is no period before the thesis that leads up to choosing the subject, etc. France is not unique in that either.
In some places in practice doctoral programs exist that start with a year of taught courses, via letting students start in a second year of a master program rather than right away in a PhD program. Generally, the idea is that the master prepares for the doctoral program.
The standard process, at least for universities, is 3 years undergraduate (called "Licence"), 2 years master, 3 years doctoral studies. (There is a complication in that a lot of the higher education does not happen in universities.)