My computer handles keyboard layout in the login shell by a script (it's Slackware, so I guess with most other machines the script is not /etc/rc.d/rc.keymap like on my machine). The important line is here "/usr/bin/loadkeys de-latin1.map" to load the German keyboard layout.
In graphical mode the X server controls which layout the keyboard has, i. e. the file /etc/X11/xorg.conf. My keyboard section to show you how it could look like for German layout:
Option "XkbModel" "pc105"
Option "XkbLayout" "de"
KDE has its own stuff to handle this independently (but if you change xorg.conf correctly KDE will also have the right layout). In case you don't want to change xorg.conf look in the KDE control center for regional settings, in Gnome there should be something similar.
So changing "de" to "fr" (or whatever you want) in xorg.conf and finding and changing the console setting for your distribution (if you need azerty in login shell) should do it for you