Really? Not a lot of armor? That tank is tough to pen at its tier, and the permium German captured version is called the Mini-Maus because of how thick it is.
As for the rest of the French tree, I am not very fond of it, and did not go far.
I tried them up to the AMX12t. I really hated the slow, heavily armored tanks with inaccurate, low penetration guns. In the AMX 38 I had a duel with another AMX 38 that lasted two minutes. Neither of us damaged the other, despite shooting at every conceivable location on the tank. I tracked him once, but it barely matters since he was not moving. Finally a few friendly tanks came in to do the work form me. I did have a good time with the AMX 40, which is odd, because everybody else says that is the worst tank in the tree.
I re-bought the AMX12t just to get a free ELC AMX in my garage, along with the free slot. Not that it matters. I have seven free slots, and not enough money to fill them. The ELC AMX is actually pretty fun, although I am far from being a good scout driver. I treat it like a super fast tank-destroyer, since that really is what it is. It is a tier 5 light with the gun of a good tier 7 medium, but the armor of a tier 1, and the profile of a small dog. Very hard to hit it unless it stays still for a while and remains visible.