Thursday, December 9, 2010

French Foreign Legion

You really can't talk about expat life without discussing some of the more extreme options. Some people will do anything for the chance and while I would strongly recommend against it, the French Foreign Legion wants you.  Well, assuming you're male, at least 18 (unless you have parental consent) and physically able to do the job. That's it. Those are the requirements.

Many men join the legion because they want to make a clean break with the past and with three years of service in the Legion you can claim French citizenship but your first tour is still for a minimum of five years.  Today's legion still does not require you to provide your real identity, but you cannot claim French citizenship without it. That being said, are you married and want to escape? Do you have a criminal record and no other way out? Do you want to serve in the military but haven't been accepted in your home country?

Legion Etrangere
Légionnaires in Paris
For most of you, I would strongly recommend that you not consider this route, but if you have no other choice, it's there for your. Free room, board and clothing is provided immediately. You can only join in France, so buy a ticket and go. It's that easy, except for that fact that not everyone is accepted. Start running, doing pull-ups and sit-ups and make sure you are in halfway decent shape. You don't even need to speak French (you'll be taught). If you sign up under your real name, you can eventually get French citizenship. The downside, of course, is that you may die. In fact, Légionnaires are probably more likely to see combat than regular French troops and many of the people you serve with might be, um, a bit dodgy. Use this route only if you have a very high tolerance for adventure. The Legion has a high mortality rate, with one in ten dying over the last century.

You can read more about their fascinating history at Wikipedia.


  1. I have been considering joining the legion not because i have a bad record at home but more because am looking to find a job in Europe that doesn't actually require more than high school qualification

  2. @Jack: Do your homework and buy that book. If you want to join the Legion, you'll certainly want to know what you're getting into. Also, read about French Foreign Legion Myths. That might help to clear up a couple of issues.