How to Join the French Foreign Legion

Tips For Joining The French Foreign Legion

Are you looking for a life of honor and adventure? Maybe you’re looking for a fresh start? If either one of these describe you, then you might be interested in learning how to join the French Foreign Legion.

Established in 1831, this unit within the French Army was created to be comprised of foreign volunteers (although French citizens are eligible) and commanded by French officers. Members learn valuable military skills, but qualities such as honor and fidelity are also highly prized.

Most of the members of the French Foreign Legion tend to come from Europe (especially France, Germany and Britain), but members from other countries often surge during periods of political crisis. For example, numerous recruits from Balkan and African countries have signed up in recent years.

In case you don’t know where to start, I’ve put together these tips for joining the French Foreign Legion. Follow them, and you’ll be embarking on a life of danger, excitement and honor.

Conduct Yourself With Honor

The French Foreign Legion values a life of honor above all others. In fact, each Legionnaire is required to know the Legionnaire’s Code of Honor by heart. If you’re thinking of joining the French Foreign Legion, you might as well start memorizing the following code:

  • Article 1 – Legionnaire, you are a volunteer serving France with “Honour and Fidelity.”
  • Article 2 – Each legionnaire is your brother in arms whatever his nationality, his race or his religion might be. You show to him the same close solidarity that links the members the same family.
  • Article 3 – You respect your traditions and your superiors. Discipline and friendship are your strengths. Courage and honesty are your virtues.
  • Article 4 – You are proud of being a legionnaire. You are always well mannered and smart. Your behavior is of the best. You are always modest and your quarters are always clean and tidy.
  • Article 5 – You are an elite soldier who is rigorous with himself. You consider your weapon as your most precious possession. You constantly maintain your physical fitness.
  • Article 6 – Your mission is sacred. It is carried out until the end, in respect of the law, the customs of war International Conventions, if needs be, at the risk of your own life.
  • Article 7 – In combat, you act without passion or hatred. You respect vanquished enemies. You never surrender your dead, your wounded, or your weapons.

Travel To France

To join the French Foreign Legion, you’ll first need to travel to France. While travel and visa expenses will be the responsibility of the candidate, you will be given free lodging, food and clothing once you reach an application center for the Legion.

Centers can be found in the following cities in mainland France:

  • Paris
  • Lille
  • Nantes
  • Strasbourg
  • Aubagne
  • Bordeaux
  • Lyon
  • Marseille
  • Nice
  • Perpignan
  • Toulouse

Keep An Open Mind

Joining the French Foreign Legion will put you in contact with people from all walks of life. Muslims and Christians will serve side by side, and this fraternity of the fighting man is what gives the Legion its strength.

During your time of service, you may be called upon to travel the globe and defend peoples of all possible nationalities. It is therefore important that you keep an open mind and demonstrate a willingness to assist those of differing ethnic, religious and geographical backgrounds.

During the last few decades, the French Foreign Legion has been deployed in the following locations and conflicts: the Gulf War, Kampuchea, Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Chad and the Ivory Coast.

Be Of Sound Mind And Body

The French Foreign Legion wants their men to be both strong of mind and strong of body. To assure this, applicants will be required to undergo both rigorous physical and psychological testing.

Once you become a member, you will be expected to maintain your physical conditioning at all times. Since the Legion can be sent to global trouble spots at a moment’s notice, constant mental and physical preparation is an absolute necessity.

Plan For The Future

Even if you don’t decide to make a career of the French Foreign Legion, you’ll learn numerous skills which can turn into a profession when you rejoin civilian life. Here are just a few of the career paths which are available:

  • Secretary
  • Data-processing
  • Computer support
  • Accountant
  • Graphic designer
  • Radio mechanic
  • Telephone exchange operator
  • Truck driver
  • Bus driver
  • Dredge driver
  • Mechanic
  • Electrician
  • Welder
  • Painter
  • Gun repair
  • Paramedic
  • Physical education instructor
  • Photographer
  • Cook
  • Musician

(NOTE: Men looking to continue their military service will learn skills such as machine gunner, sniper, tank driver, paratrooper, sapper, armored vehicle driver, anti-tank rocket launcher and much more.)

Leave Your Past Behind

While the French Foreign Legion does allow members to leave their past behind, there’s one fact which needs to be cleared up from the beginning of this section. While criminals may have been accepted into the Legion in the past, modern requirements seek to weed out all undesirable elements. To this end, background checks are performed on all applicants, and you must present a valid ID.

Once you are accepted, Legionnaires are required to enlist under a false name. French citizens will also be required to declare their citizenship as somewhere other than France. After completing a year of service, legionnaires can then choose to resume their true name (or keep their alias). All legionnaires will be enlisted as single, regardless of their marital status.

After three years of service (a minimum of five years is required), soldiers may apply for French citizenship (although they must do so under their true name). Those wounded in action may also apply for French citizenship under a provision known as “French by spilled blood.”

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