How to join French Foreign Legion and what to expect when you get there

How to become member of the French Foreign Legion
How to become member of the French Foreign Legion? (Photo: XY)

How to join French Foreign Legion and what to expect when you get there? The French Foreign Legion is the only unit of the French Army open to people of any nationality. All members of the Foreign Legion are men; women are not permitted to join. Most legionnaires still come from European countries, but a growing percentage comes from Latin America. Most of the Foreign Legion’s commissioned officers are French, with approximately 10% being former Legionnaires who have risen through the ranks.

Life in the French Foreign Legion has always made for a good yarn, but what’s fact and what’s fiction has been hard to differentiate over the years – but it’s that very mystique that has served as the Legion’s best recruiter. Those looking for relevant first-hand information on what to expect, should they decide the French Foreign Legion’s basic no-frills military life is for them, will be frustrated and could end up making a costly, ill-informed decision.

Introduction

Joining the French Foreign Legion was always a quest. To join the French Foreign Legion (FFL) and fulfill their enlistment standards, the first thing to do is to show up at one of the recruiting centers across France. To become a member of this elite unit and earn the right to wear kepi blanc and be called legionnaire, you need to have a strong motive. Besides all things, you need a strong will to endure what awaits you when you come there.

How to Join French Foreign Legion: How to join and what to expect when you get there
How to Join French Foreign Legion: French Legionnaires marching on the French Foreign Legion day (Photo: Pinterest)

All the information you need to join the French Foreign Legion successfully is available in this article. First of all, it is essential to know that you only log on to French territory. After you find the FFL recruitment center, you need to approach the soldier guarding the base and tell him why you are there. He will escort you to the recruitment office.

Upon arrival, you will be provided with suitable clothing, sleep, and everything you need to test and verify whether you are in the general and special conditions for access to the French Foreign Legion training. It is the first step to become a legionnaire. In additional days, you need to learn and obey the French Foreign Legion code of honor.

  • Preselection is carried out in our recruiting offices throughout France
  • Selection is carried out in Aubagne near Marseille :
    • psycho-technical tests
    • medical tests
    • sports tests (Luc-leger “navette”)
  • If your candidature is upheld, the first contract is a minimum of 5 years.
  • Successive contracts are for six months, up to 5 years.
  • You must be successive contracts are for six months (for minors under 18, parental consent is required on a form available in French Gendarmeries or Embassies outside France)
  • Whatever your marital status is (single, married, divorced..), you will be enlisted as a single man.
  • You must have a valid ID.
  • You must be physically fit to serve at all times and in all places.

The next step if you want to join the French Foreign Legion is preselection.

Preselection

The preselection is usually done in the recruiting offices across France, while the main part of the selection process is carried out in Aubagne near Marseille. That is the place where potential candidates for the French Foreign Legion undergo various psychological and physical tests, medical testing, and sports tests (Luc-Leger “navette”). Life in the French Foreign Legion is about to begin.

The French Foreign legion - PRESELECTION
Life in the French Foreign Legion will be full of learning lessons and training (Photo: Pinterest/FFL)

If you are fit enough to complete all tests and the French Foreign Legion accepts your nomination, the first contract you will sign will be on the period for at least five years, during each subsequent conclusion of your choice for a period of six months to five years.

There is also an option for a contract of six months during training (for those under 18 years, the consent of both parents and the form can be found at the French embassy in Gendarmeries or outside France). That doesn’t mean that you will join the French Foreign Legion as a full-time legionnaire. The next step on your way is basic training.

GCP of the 2ème REP is the elite unit of the French Foreign Legion
GCP of the 2ème REP is the elite unit of the French Foreign Legion (Photo: French Foreign Legion)

Basic requirements

Some of the basic requirements in addition to those listed above and include the following three:

  • You must have a valid ID (identification documents) – Passport or National Identity card, and all other documents you might need
  • regardless of your marital status (single, married, divorced …) will be logged as a single
  • You must be physically fit to serve at all times and in all places
  • Successive contracts are for six months (for minors under 18, parental consent is required on a form available in French Gendarmeries or Embassies outside France)
  • Subsequent agreements are for six months, up to 5 years

Selection

Selection is carried out in Aubagne near Marseille :

    • psycho-technical tests
    • medical tests
    • sports tests (Luc-leger “navette”)

If your candidature is upheld, the first contract is a minimum of 5 years. The course of the selection is available in the chart below.

PHASE Information Duration
S

E

L

E

C

T

I

O

N

 

The French Foreign Legion Information Center One day
Reception Information
Opening the files on the application
Preselection 1-3 days
The Foreign Legion recruiting center (Paris Aubagne)
Confirmation of motivation Basic medical examination Finalizing the paper application
The signing of the contract (5 years)
Selection 1 to 10 days
The center for the recruitment and selection of the French Foreign Legion in Aubagne, Marseille
Psychometrical testing: logical tests, no special knowledge needed
Medical Examination Sports Tests Motivational and security interviews
Personality test (related to psycho tests)
Selection
Signature and download the contract of service (5 years). Seven days
Incorporation

Basic training

PHASE Basic training Duration
F

O

R

M

A

T

I

O

N

Introductory training. Introduction to military life. Outdoor and field activities. Brotherhood. In the tradition of the Foreign Legion. Four weeks
March “Képi Blanc” and promotions. One week
Technical and practical training (field training) Three weeks
Mountaineering training (Chalet at Formiguière in the French Pyrenees) One week
Technical and practical training (field training) Two weeks
And obtaining elemental tests: technical certificate (CTE) One week
March, which marks the end of basic training One week
School management light trucks One week
Return to Aubagne before scheduling the regiment One week
Reporting to one of the 11 regiments

Women in French Foreign Legion

While the Foreign Legion does not accept women in its ranks, one official female member, Briton Susan Travers, joined Free French Forces during the Second World War and became a foreign legion member after the war in Vietnam, the First Indochina War.

The Foreign Legion, on occasion, inducts honorary members into its ranks. During the siege of Dien Bien Phu, this honor was granted to General Christian de Castries, Colonel Pierre Langlais, Geneviève de Galard (“The Angel of Dien Bien Phu”), and Marcel Bigeard, the Officer in Command of the 6th BPC. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. is also an honorary member.

Female soldiers in conflict zones
Female soldiers in conflict zones (Photo: XY)

According to Neil Tweedie of The Daily Telegraph, by 2008, many recruits increasingly came from middle-class backgrounds due to improved conditions and increased professionalism within the French Foreign Legion. Tweedie said, “If some NCOs in the Legion are to be believed, the whole corps is becoming a bit soft and girly.” Corporal Buys Francois, a South African legionnaire, said the Legion was taking recruits with university degrees and ex-husbands who were fleeing alimony and that “[w]e call the new entrants Generation. PlayStation because they’re so soft.”

Conclusion

If you are certain to join the French Foreign Legion, we wish you good luck and a great time and enjoy life in the French Foreign Legion. It will change your attitude and your life, for sure. The intention behind this article was to give potential recruits something he never had, a solid basis from which to make an informed decision.

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