Foreign Legion Chants and Music

Just a quick post today.  In my quest to be somewhat of a clearing house for all things “French Foreign Legion” I am posting a link to the official Légion Étrangère website and their downloadable mp3 files of marching chants and music.  Many are very somber and I can’t imagine marching to some of them.  Especially at the Legion marching pace of 88 steps a minute.  An interesting paragraph can be found on the Wikipedia entry for the Legion about their parade marches.  It also contains the words to “Le Boudin“.

“””””Also notable is the marching pace of the Foreign Legion. In comparison to the 120-step-per-minute pace of other French units, the Foreign Legion has an 88-step-per-minute marching speed. It is also referred to by Legionnaires as the “crawl.” This can be seen at ceremonial parades and public displays attended by the Foreign Legion, particularly while parading in Paris on 14 July. Because of the impressively slow pace, the Foreign Legion is always the last unit marching in any parade. The Foreign Legion is normally accompanied by its own band which traditionally plays the march of any one of the regiments comprising the Foreign Legion, except that of the unit actually on parade. The regimental song of each unit and “Le Boudin” is sung by legionnaires standing at attention. Also, because the Foreign Legion must always stay together, it does not break formation into two when approaching the presidential grandstand, as other French military units do, in order to preserve the unity of the Foreign Legion.

Contrary to popular belief, the adoption of the Foreign Legion’s slow marching speed was not due to a need to preserve energy and fluids during long marches under the hot Algerian sun. Its exact origins are somewhat unclear, but the official explanation is that although the pace regulation does not seem to have been instituted before 1945, it hails back to the slow, majestic marching pace of the Ancien Régime, and its reintroduction was a “return to traditional roots”.  This was in fact, the march step of the Foreign Legion’s ancestor units – the Régiments Étrangers or Foreign Regiments of the Ancien Régime French Army, the Grande Armée’s foreign units, and the pre-1831 foreign regiments.”””””

About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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