When I was in high school, one of my classmates, who was on exchange in France, wrote me an email, and I was able to tell her how to type some character thanks to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_Caps . I still remember the name "AZERTY".
Tricky indeed and the period thing still makes no sense to me. But when I came back to the states it took me a while to adjust to an english board. Google translate is the bomb because it offers a french keypattern to use, so if for some reason you are writing a letter in french it is all right there for you. --- SIGNATURE