Agreed. The actions of the French with all of its colonial advantages appeared to just fritter them away in a rancorous and mean-spirited fashion. Why? Their fleet could and should have sailed away from both North Africa and Metropolitan France (Oran). France did itself no favors during the early part of WW2 when it clearly could have. In the end, there was only DeGaulle to save France’s honor and, fortunately for France, he did that.And with all do respect, de Gaulle as "British puppet" it's nothing more than Vichy Propaganda reminiscent.
But besides that, what You said in the post about the international recognition of the Vichy regime is exactly what I was talking about: France, after loosing it's field army actually surrendered. Tied entirely it's hands.
It's enough to compare the faith of the Dutch navy to the one of the French Navy: Dutch lost almost entirely it's désuet Navy fighting the enemy . Dutch submarines had sunken more ships than US and British navies together in the same period of time in Western Australian waters for example. Dutch state left itself the possibility to do something, so it could contribute (at their level) to the fight.
French saw their fleet prevetively sunk by its former allies, leaving the Free French in the posture of beggars.
Sorry, for me, the French "solution" was really the worse one to choose.