My husband and I want to travel throughout Europe for a year. We are looking into getting a Long-stay Visa from the French Consulate. My question is does this allow us to visit the other Schengen area countries for longer than 90 days? We are planning on spending at least a month in France, but we are unsure how to count the days in the Schengen area. Does holding a French Visa mean the days in France do not count towards the 90-day time limit? Or is the 90-day time limit still an issue with a long-stay visa?
A French, national long term visa only allows you to visit other Schengen countries for 90 days within a 180 days period. As US citizens, this does not give you any obvious advantage over the allowed visa free stay.
As you already seem to assume: the French visa will only allow you to stay longer than 90 days in France and the period you are staying in France does not count towards the 90 days you are allowed in other countries. So if you intend to stay in Europe exactly one year with a French national visa, you will have to spend at least 180 days in France and can at most visit other Schengen countries for 185 days.