We arrived to Marseille and a bus waited for us near to the Saint-Charles station. The view and the sunshine gave me a feeling that I’m on a holiday.
I thought, if somehow I can’t get in, I’m going to swim in the sea, at least. As we arrived to Aubagne to the HQ of the French Foreign Legion we had to give our civil stuffs down again. We only got them back for the journey from Paris to Aubagne.
We were in a cave under the main building of the recruiting center which is a railed off space of the 1st Foreign Regiment. We had to put all of our belongings (underwear, socks included) in our backpacks or in a carton if somebody did not have one.
Finally, I found myself between 20 fully naked guys in a cave somewhere in a foreign country. Fantastic, I thought.
A few minutes later, we got a temporary uniform, a blue shorts, a black T-shirt and some new, but pretty shitty underwear probably from the ‘80s.
The next morning after breakfast we started with the sport tests.
We marched a few hundred meters from the regiment and got a few minutes to prepare for the Cooper test. The only test I almost failed because I didn’t have a watch to control the time at the end. Back home I trained on a running machine and I always had a monitor before my eyes to check my speed. I finished with 2600 meters, although I did 200 meters more in the gym. The minimum distance you have to accomplish is 2600 meters to join the French Foreign Legion.
The same morning after a 10 second shower we continued with the IQ test.
The IQ test wasn’t too hard, simple logic exercises, domino tests or completing a number pyramid for example. Not very difficult, but it’s better if you prepare for. (I wrote an article about the IQ test if you want to learn more )
After lunch there were some guys who failed one of the 2 tests and had to leave immediately the regiment. The day after we had the luc-leger running test and the pull-ups. I passed all of them and only had the interviews and the second medical visit left.
The evenings we had 2 hours pretty much “free” in the garden behind the building.
We had a possibility to do some sport, or buy a bar of chocolate or just to speak with the others. From 8 PM we went to take a shower, not more than ten seconds per person. We finished the day by cleaning the rooms, the corrdiors and offices of the building.
The responsible, a caporal-chef came by for the inspection. The guys already selected (called “Rouge”), organized the cleaning and if something didn’t go well, they had to do push-ups as punishment. If that happened, we could be quite sure that we are not going alowed to take a shower. The “rouge” guys were already in military uniform so it wasn’t too hard to make the difference between them and us.
The 3rd day in Aubagne.
Wake up at 5.30, cleaning the rooms, go to breakfast, and visit the doctor again. As we arrived, we got a vaccination and had to wait in the hall for the results. It was a test to detect if you are allergic for basic food ingredients or not. An Italian guy next to me said that he doesn’t know if he is allergic or not and got afraid of being disqualified… So he just decided to suck the vaccine out.
In a minute his arm got twice bigger than before and when the doctor realized what happened, he called the Italian in his office. He waited until the guy got better and send him back to the center. I have never seen him again…
In the afternoon, the interviews started for some of us.
For those who couldn’t pass on the interview at the same time like the others, they had to work in the kitchen or somewhere in the regiment under the command of the old soldiers. Usually they were caporal-chefs before retirement or between two long-term missions.
The interview in Aubagne was just a little bit more specific than in Paris. Almost the same questions, but more focused on your future career.
- Why did you come here?
- What do you want to do in the Legion?
- How many years did you plan to stay here?
- Do you want to become a parachutist?
- Do you volunteer to do a career here?
- In which regiment do you want to serve later?
- What kind of specialty did you imagine for yourself…..?
My last interview was probably the most awkward 3 hours of my life. Candidates called the office “Gestapo” (officially DSPLE) after the secret police of Nazi Germany. So I went by and knocked on the door….