For that and assuming you have the money for the others that are more expensive I would skip the Dufour and I would join to that list the Boreal 44 and the Allures 45 and 39.
The Cigale 14 is a great boat but I think they are going to substitute it soon by a new model as they have with the rest of the range.
Try to see if Hannah (Steve) did not yet sail out of France in his new Boreal 44. That is a first that you can test to see if it fits you.
That is very interesting your choice of boat and it will just fit in the purpose of this thread so please keep us posted about it.
Basically you have to decide if you want a Catamaran or a monohull. Catamarans are generally more expensive and a big one demands previous experience with cats in my opinion. Between monohulls you have to decide if you want a center-boarder or a full keel boat. I love the Cigale, old model and all, but the 16 is just better looking.
Thanks for the inputs Paulo. I'll keep posting my findings here even though I still have a lot to learn about boat construction and design for them to be of common interest I guess. If you think my postings are getting too personal for the purpose of this thread I'd consider moving them for a more appropriate one.
Regarding my experience, I've chartered cats twice in the caribbean (horseman/leopard) around 40'. It was great for the vacation purpose, lots of space and payload capacity but very bad experience sailing wise. If money wasn't an issue I definitely would go with a outremer, for me, just the perfect balance between living area space, amenities(few) and sailing ability (said to be great). We visited both shipyards, outremer and catana, and the later impressed for the build quality and interior finish but the boat we visited, a 42 with 4 cabins you'd have to squeeze to go down from the salon to the cabins because of the placement of the heads. Shouldn't have 4 cabins on 42/45's !. The outremer 45 was an owners version setup and had one big head placed in front of the hull and another in the middle of the other hull, no problems moving around even though the salon area seems smaller than the catana's. The owner head is very spacious.
We don't have the money to afford a new boat, we're targeting a 10 years old one and since we started looking around we've been raising the bar continuously. As we don't have plans to keep the boat after our 3 years trip we are tempted to increase our initial budget in other to get it back easier later on, let see if this holds true at the end...
Leaving the cats arena, yesterday we briefly visited a RM 10.60, a X38, a pogo and a dufour 36E. We fell in love for the RM !! The setup is super!! Clean and light interior. We asked for a test and the guy offered a skippered day sail for 500 euros, we are considering because there would be very few, if none, other opportunities for us to test sail a RM after we return back home in Brazil but, well, it's expensive isn't it?
I'll check your new suggestions (Boreal 44 and the Allures 45 and 39) to see if I can find them around here to visit and still, if anybody have dealers/brokers/shipyards contacts in South of France that could share or recommend my list is wide open and growing!