What components are in a contract with the French Foreign Legion?

Author: Roland Bartetzko


You’ll sign your first contract at the Musée de la Légion étrangère (the museum of the Foreign Legion) in Aubagne/Marseille, right after you have passed the selection process and before you are sent to basic training in Castelnaudary barracks.

While your group of CEV (candidates engagés volontaires or voluntary candidates) is assembled in the middle of the museum, some instructor will go around and hold one of his hands with its fingers spread high into the air, shouting:

“Five years contract, fünf Jahre, pet godine, cinq ans!” “Don’t forget that! It’s five years!”

That’s about all a new recruit will ever know about the elements of his contract. Then, a senior Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) will read the contract in a loud voice; in the French language. Of course, most of the candidates won’t understand all terms and aspects of it because of language barrier.

FFL training
The French Foreign legion – training course (Photo: Pinterest/FFL)

Usually, they place some instructors near the different national groups of volunteers who are supposed to translate during the reading of the contract. The problem, however, is that these guys either don’t know enough French to give you a good idea about what you are about to sign in a few minutes, or they speak properly French but have forgotten their native language. And again, you miss a lot of the contract info you are supposed to learn before you sign.

The French Foreign Legion: Before you get your ass kicked, you sign a five years contract

This takes about three minutes. You stand there and understand nothing. Still, it’s kind of a festive moment in the semi-dark halls of the museum. When the senior NCO has finished, one after the other, the new recruits sign their contract paper.

That’s all. The components of your contract, you ask? Didn’t you listen, you stupid idiot? It’s five years of service! And you are on your way to the Castelnaudary.

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