I would propose looking over some of the items here:http://www.taydaelectronics.com/Good prices, available in small quantities.
Thank you all for the suggestions! I already have an Arduino Uno, otherwise the arduino-direct and sparkfun kits looked great! And I may well end up shopping there for parts, if shipping is reasonable to France.Many thanks for the feedback from everyone!Dave.
Here is a good start, and it includes some written instructions.http://www.sparkfun.com/products/11022