I'd like to create a website in France using English as the main language. Is google likely to penalise me for this?
Short answer: No. Long answer: Location is not a concern at all, do you mean a site with a .fr extension? There's word (no solid confirmation, though) that .com's are favored as they are harder to get while exotic ones are discounted for the opposite reason. .fr should be solid enough in either case. There may be an issue with linking and clickthrough rates though - people might be reluctant to link to or click on some site with an extension that suggests a different language then english, even if the target content actually is in english. But ranking itself should not be a problem.